Cutting down on paper

Dec 6th, 2011 | By | Category: Personal Columns

There is a sense of an end of a relationship.

We always bought a daily newspaper.  In the Northern Ireland of the mid-80s it was the Belfast Telegraph, it was an evening paper, but neither of the morning papers seemed attractive.  By the 90s, money was more plentiful, local weekly papers appeared in the house along with the Belfast Telegraph each evening.  These were supplemented by the Daily Telegraph, bought first in the summer of 1995 because its cricket coverage is unrivalled.

In 1996, the daily purchase of the two Telegraphs was joined on a Saturday by the Financial Times, which has the best colour supplement of any newspaper, and by the Larne Times on a Thursday.  Then in 1997, there was an Irish Times billboard campaign advertising it as the newspaper with no strings attached.  We became a house that took two morning papers, and evening one, and an additional paper on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Reading those papers became a highlight of the day.

Moving to Dublin in 1999, money was not so plentiful.  Cash that might have been spent in supporting the work of journalists was needed to pay for health care and school costs and the buying of papers was reduced. The Irish Times was still a daily feature, but the Daily Telegraph made its appearance only on a Saturday, along with the FT.  There seemed less time to digest the work of the correspondents.

Moving to rural Ireland last year, there came a realisation that the Irish Times was really a Dublin paper and efforts to become enthusiastic about the Irish Independent went nowhere, its Letters page was sufficient reason not to buy it.  The Saturday edition of the Daily Telegraph  seemed increasingly about a strange and faraway country.  From having three to four newspapers in a day, the volume of newsprint in the house has diminished to two papers on a Saturday.

The end of any relationship generally stems from a change in one or both the parties.  Perhaps it is the papers are not what they were.  In the 80s and early 90s, they were a major channel of news, but with the growth of rolling television news channels and the rapid expansion of the Internet, that role has declined.  The electronic media have brought a fall in newspaper circulation, which has meant the budget for paying all the correspondents who made papers so interesting has been severely reduced.

Perhaps, on the other side, the loss of love for the papers comes from feeling they no longer had the place they once had.  In Dublin, the pages of the  Irish Times were the stuff of daily conversation, but out beyond the pale, no-one is much interested.

Life is poorer for the loss of the relationship, but Mr Noonan has ensured it cannot be revived.

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