It would be
worth keep an eye on whatever is going on in the AFR‘s
Friday Review section. Currently the best section in the country if you
want good, thoughtful and sharp writing on a wide variety of topics, all
relevant to the shaping of society, some airhead at Fairfax now
obviously has it in their sights.

Last
Friday it carried a one-page reader survey encouraging people to send
in ideas for “improvement” in return for possibly winning a $200 gift
voucher. None too subtle questions asked readers if they wanted more
pictures, etc. Surveys have to be in by this Friday. I’ve never
met the editor of the section but I can imagine what this survey might
mean unless readers respond as I did. My suggestion for improvement to
Review was to chop off the hands of the idiot who had dreamed up the
survey.

Must
we have breakout boxes, dot points, huge type and commercially snazzy
topics in everything we read these days? Nothing wrong with those
devices in their place — but that doesn’t mean everywhere. The
makeover of Spectrum on The SMH has turned it into a zone for the
brain-free. Remember when it was a broadsheet section and essential
reading on a Saturday for anyone who wanted to know what was what? Now,
I mostly forget to even open it. And Review, which is a quieter paced,
finely written (much of it from OS) section looks as if it, too, is
threatened.

I mean, we can’t have a Fairfax newspaper running
beautifully textured writing and analysis that actually questions the
current status quo and encourages people to think for themselves, can
we? The two prime examples of weasel-worders, Fred Hilmer and Mark
Scott, must gag on their cornflakes every Friday morning when they open
the section.

Peter Fray

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