Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's wrong with the Listener?

Russell Brown has become the latest long-serving Listener columnist to throw in the towel. I'd given up buying it long ago, but now I barely even have a reason to look at it on the web or read it in the library. Other than Brian Easton's column (which is biweekly) and the odd feature by Matt Nippert, it's pretty much a waste of space.

Meanwhile, Otago University student magazine, The Critic, has a look at Who is the Listener listening to? They interview both former editor Finlay Macdonald, and current editor Pamela Stirling (though not, sadly, about the sacking of David Hansford). Telling quote:

"You could call features on house prices and nutrition 'lifestyle pieces', but they're pretty core issues, too. These are topics that hit people where they live, and they're constantly covered by the newspapers and other publications, too."
Indeed they are - but usually by lifestyle and gossip rags, not by publications that pretend to intellectual seriousness and covering "the political, cultural and literary life of the country". Then there's this bit:
"We're aware that magazine readership skews female these days. So that's why we've introduced new health and nutrition columnists."
Shallow and sexist. And soon no doubt we can have stories about Bob Clarkson's "baby bump" and Paul Henry's hidden pain as well...

(Hat tip: philipmatthews on PA System)