Yesterday The Age caved in to reader complaints and overhauled
its arts section, moving it from a standalone tabloid to a broadsheet
format inside the paper’s main news section.

This retreat follows the paper’s recent embarrassment over its business
section, which was moved to the main news section and then moved back
to its own section after a flood of reader complaints.

But if this comment from Crikey reader James is any indication, Age editor Andrew Jaspan hasn’t heard the last of his complaining readers – and may be forced to make another squirming about-turn:

Add this to your dictionary:

jasponage:n. (rhymes with sabotage), the act of wanton
change, adjustment, amendment without reason resulting in no
discernible improvement or even achieving a negative effect; v.t. to
undertake such actions contrary to well-founded opposition; to
alienate; to undermine and even destroy long-established traditions and
practices, to fly in the face of popular opinion, to reduce circulation
of previously healthy bodies
.

Just what does Jaspan think he’s doing with The Age?
The latest travesty is to absorb the ailing Metro/A3 section into the
body of the paper – just as he erroneously tried with Business.

The reason, as stated in his message to readers, was that Metro was
“hidden” inside Sport. So, using that weird logic, can we now expect
Epicure to be removed from inside Sport and into the main body of the
paper? And similarly with Education, Next and EG.

Has this man any idea of how people use their newspapers? The Metro
section is a conveniently-sized package we can tote around all day as
we cope with crosswords, word games and su-do-ku. We can also set it
aside for later perusal of the TV programs.

Now Mr Jaspan expects us to carry the entire paper around all day.
Where is the research, reader survey or other justification for such an
illogical and ill-found decision?

And what about the promise that the Metro move means we can now expect
up to date reviews? What nonsense. Monday’s paper carried reviews of
events from the previous Thursday and Tuesday. Today we get a review
from last Saturday and another from last Wednesday and one from last
Thursday.

We know how much updating is done by The Age
for its second edition (witness the preference for Vizard over the
latest London bomb scare last week) so what hope of living up to the
Jaspan promise of same night reviews?

The little paper gets more appealing by the day.

Peter Fray

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