As he ran through the pages of yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Timothy Pembroke couldn’t help but notice that Sydney’s March in March – clearly one of the major events of the weekend – failed to attract much interest from the state’s second largest newspaper. This guest post from Tim is his response to the Sydney Morning Herald’s glaring failure:
Today my friends and I were flicking through your pages with a regular Monday morning happiness. As per Monday during footy season, we are fairly certain we navigated patiently through a double page spread describing an enthralling Dragons Vs Cowboys match in Wollongong with a quoted 8,345 attendees, but we may be confused with any week from the upcoming 26. Normally it’s quite tedious to scroll through the sports wrap, but we were happy to do so this morning as we reveled in the excitement of turning the pages and that beautiful moment when we would finally land in your heart to read about the mighty March In March. We searched and searched, turned and turned. We soon realized that there was NO mention of the march. Maybe we’d missed it? Was there a feature article insert that may have fallen out? It was a nationwide march, surely there was something? A political movement created by the people for the people that attracted more than 100,000 + attendees nationwide over 2 days with another massive day still to come in Canberra. This was not a poor mans competition to the annual St Patrick’s Day carnival parade as Tony Abbott more or less described it (St Pat’s we noted had some coverage on page 5) – this was a big moment for Sydney & Australia. March In March meant a lot of things to a lot of people, so much that #marchinmarch was trending nationally on social for more than 2 days – a movement of national consciousness created by an army of people, mums, dads, students, kids, ratbags and scallywags, socialists, greens, normals, hipsters, awakened corporates, teachers, community elders, Irishmen, tweeters, instagrammers, facebookers, hashtagees and hashtaggers. We figure your news team would search social media TRENDS for new content ideas? You must have noticed the fuss? We dressed up, spoke about truths, communicated compassion and frustrations. We sang with Billy Bragg and shared stories of why we want changes in Abbott government policy. It was more than the talk of the town. It was the talk across the pubs, clubs, dinner tables, beaches, parks, Saturday morning kids cricket carnivals and garage sales Australia wide.
We understand that it is footy season so your pages are already well and truly reserved for the “Tahs” who no doubt appreciated your usual 2 page critique of their backline ball movement and scrummaging, and the mighty swans whose accuracy in front of the goals is always worth a solid 500 words, especially after a shock loss to the Giants! – and in future circumstances, we would never want to be the ones responsible for you having to have “the talk” with Fitzy. Leave that man be. Don’t get us wrong, we understand all of your commitments to space. Likewise we noted your extensive coverage of the Tasmanian and South Australian state elections which pointed out the daunting amount of work Labor has ahead of it if they are to challenge Abbott at the next election – but was there really no room for the March In March? At all? Nothing? Not even a dribble in the socials pages? Actually there was some disguised mention of Billy Brag performing in Central – but you needed a diploma in braille to uncover the code: Billy, a hugely famous political activist with decades of history was performing in Belmore Park, Sydney – on a Sunday afternoon for the March In March. Is it that you guys are hard markers, or is that your paper is going through a crisis due to the decline in readership as the internet and quality online news content platforms look to eat you alive, that you couldn’t afford to send a reporter out on a Sunday pay rate? If that’s the case – our condolences. It’s a sigh of relief to know that the Internet is creating transparency for the people of Sydney and Australia, and you will no doubt come to adjust to the changing world where people want a rounded display of content filled with substance and truth on a Monday morning. Maybe your team were on the bandwagon of cynicism like so many others, adding further to the plight of progress. Billy Bragg spoke of our greatest enemy being not the capitalist world we so often complain about, but the cynical world. A world where hope is cut down at the knees. It’s not hard to see where the cynicism develops when a world class newspaper such as the SMH fails to report on a movement of the people. Your silence astounds us, similar to the way Adam Goodes was astounded in a recent piece in the SMH when describing white Australia’s attitudes towards Indigenous Australian history.
If you could do us one favour, please ask your chief what sort of information you are looking to cover in 2014, because it seems we need pointers. A couple of tips for you, your team and any aspiring writer for that matter looking to cut through in this age of constant content; write articles that people want to read and report on what matters to the people of Sydney. The SMH do this better than most, more often that not. But on March 16 and 17 – we say not. Not only was this day important for the folk who marched, it was the faces and reactions of the observers and the greater community that was a spectacle and the real story of the day. Thousands paused their Sunday shopping, tinder dates, jogs, TAB bets & ‘Sundey Arvo Beers’ to watch the 20,000 plus crowd – these people suddenly realised that they might have been “missing the boat” on Abbott’s’ policies of late. Their eyes were transfixed on EVERY sign. It was beautiful to watch onlookers de-code the signs – and suddenly feel connected to the issues and to consider the power that humans can have on each other. Suddenly a compassionate, considerate and conscious world seemed so much more important to every individual. We the marchers educated them, leaving them to go home with new knowledge, sense of self-empowerment, a new interest in Australian government activity, and most importantly hope.
SMH, we write with the best of intention. We seek truth. Yesterday was a big day and you blatantly ignored it. Even the ABC gave us some airtime despite obvious pressures on them. Without trying to sound like bitterly disappointed children, we wish you all the best in your slow descent to the thin air of online content and the minds and memories of paper loving Sydney journeymen such as ourselves. We have sincerely appreciated our relationship with you over the last 20 years – the unforgettable experience of being able to walk out to the front door step of our Grandma’s house, unwrap you, feel your soft smooth texture and that fresh smell of ink of a morning. You offer so much. You’ve taught us a healthy portion of the things we know about the world, arts, culture, politics, sport, crosswords and life. Your pages will never be forgotten by us, but we’re putting you in the sin bin for a little while. Like Abbott, if you work with us, the people, we will work with you. We are all in this together. We want everyone on the field at all times working together, as after all we are all one. We’re sure that you don’t need Nostradamus to point out the way the new generation are already consuming media with online content certainly being the way forward – and we noted your inclusion of Jacqueline Maley’s little piece – so your URL has been added to our favourites, but if you are going to go to the efforts of printing to the streets, at least pay attention to the real news. We needed you yesterday. More than anything it would have been a great symbol of respect – honouring the hard work done by thousands of people whose hands and feet moved purely with the intention to compassionately care for their treasured country.
In case you wanted to see what you missed – here is a beautiful video from the Melbourne march: http://vimeo.com/89244643
This article was first published on Tim’s own blog at timothypembroke.wordpress.com.
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