Sunday, July 13, 2003

Now to Brook's real point (as I see it)...I must say, with a little further reading of the Michael Wolf article, that the only part that seems grievous is not the wares Mr. Z has in his coat, but the price he is charging us for them. The niche-market strategy the American version of The Guardian plans to pursue is small readership, big subscription price. The problem with this is both pyschological and practical. It limits the availability of good-quality thinking to those who can afford to pay for it, implying that a mind is a luxury to have, and creates further antipathy between "elite liberals" and a mass that's already too ready to see themselves as anti-intellectual even without snobbery along class lines. If The Guardian's great freedom comes from its trust fund, which makes it relatively immune to advertising pressures, why is it necessary to stick it to its readers with the price tag? Why assume from the get-go that small price, large readership won't work just as well for The Guardian as for the tabloids, that poor people can't also be smart? Or at least that there aren't enough poor people who are smart enough to make such a venture competitive on the tabloid level? That strategy would disseminate the message much more widely and give a greater chance for real social and political change rather than just breeding more conflict and hostility.

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