Saturday, September 01, 2018

Why we are cancelling our Cape Times and Weekend Argus subscriptions

One of the highlights of the day, for many years, has been breakfast with a newspaper. We have subscribed to the Rand Daily Mail, The Star, Cape Times and Argus/ Weekend Argus for the best part of fifty years. The advent of the tabloid Times was a highlight as it was a manageable format with excellent writing and good news coverage.

The acquisition of Independent Media by Iqbal Surve has seen a steady decline in the quality of writing and reporting in the Cape Times and Argus over the past few years. Sadly, we see his face on the front page much too frequently. A newspaper should not be a medium for self-glorification. 

We gave up the daily Argus several years ago when it became a re-hash of the stories in the Cape Times and our mate David Biggs, sadly, was not a big enough incentive to purchase when he was the only reason. The letters page in the Cape Times is now a vehicle for bulletins from government departments and political parties, with almost no real letters from readers, which were always an attraction. Some regular writers to the editor have told us they they are now embargoed, which is why we never see their contributions. We miss you James!

The brilliant cartoons from successive talented artists were a highlight: John Jackson, Tony Grogan, Derek Bauer, David Marais, Myke Ashley Cooper, Dov Fedler and, of course, the brilliant Jonathan Shapiro/Zapiro. These have all gone, some having died, others sidelined or fired and replaced with well-drawn but far less imaginative, cutting, critical and pithy illustrations

Today's Weekend Argus sees it hit a new low. The new design is an illogical mess, stories scattered over the page with no clear boundaries and proper news is relegated to the "Lifestyle" category. Most of the writing is infantile, apart from the columns written by our three favourites, Andrew Donaldson, William Saunderson-Meyer and Ryland Fisher whose contributions are now randomly scattered through the paper.

We will miss the comics, some of the sports writing, which has been and still is good, but we can get it online. Above all, we will miss a crackly sheet of paper which can irritate, educate, entertain and even catch the crumbs of the toast. We can read the daily Times on our Kindle and smartphone, but it isn't the same. We will still enjoy the Sunday Times and hope that Tiso Blackstar won't take that into the digital ether.

Perhaps we are too old and part of a generation that was brought up on newspapers. I devoured them at home and in our school library from almost as soon as I could read and they were an essential part of my education. The era of the soundbite and Tweet is all very well, but there is seldom any depth in those arenas.

RIP the news papers as we once knew them. We live in hope of a resurrection

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