When I was young, newspapers were for grown-ups and they were all the same. I remember my grandfather saying something along the lines of our local newspaper being good for lining bird cages, but I just didn't see it.
At uni I didn't read a paper because I already knew everything and anyway, who can afford that kind of outlay on a regular basis? Once I emigrated, the distinction between a good paper and a bad one quickly became clear.
My dear mother in law faithfully reads the Brisbane Courier Mail, and I must confess to reading it every time we visit. It's an easy read, that's for sure. My mother, during one of her stays here, discreetly whispered in my ear, asking if we could get a 'real' newspaper. I knew just the one for her.
I can't remember my first encounter with The Australian newspaper, but it has been a part of our lives since I emigrated. Every Saturday one of us makes sure to buy The Weekend Australian, and the week seems bleak if we've failed in our routine task. If we are away for a weekend we buy it and carry it home. I've even taken one on international flights (terribly inconvenient economy class reading material). Don't know why we don't subscribe…
The Australian is a broadsheet. It's a big format publication when the other, more populist papers seem to be half the size (like the National Enquirer, if I remember correctly). Recently I was flipping through a weekday copy in my school library near some of my students. One of them commented on the size, "What paper is that? It's huge!" It may be intellectual snobbery, but I feel an instant kinship with people who read The Australian, and have even been known to ask my students which paper their families read.
I just love spreading my paper out all over the table and folding it to get just the right bit so I can read an article. I love the heft and the flapping involved with reading The Weekend Australian. I love the way my slight OCD tendencies are needed to keep it neatly aligned. I love the amazing vocabulary, opinions and ideas it contains. I love reading while I eat and not worrying about dirtying it. I love its spot in our bookshelf. All week long it sits alone, laying flat, only occasionally sharing its space with a local rag. All week long we pull it out and read it.
I generally start the weekend with the front page and 'Inquirer' sections, work on the puzzles around Wednesday, and slog through the sports section by Friday. The paper does have some fun, fluffy articles. As a matter of fact, the title of this post comes from its website (5 March 2010). Our twelve year old lives for the fashion spread in the magazine and the short, biographical articles.
But it also has such intelligent in-depth writing. Long have I thought it made us cleverer, and low and behold, their new slogan is, 'Think. Again.' The columnists include theologians, philosophers, comedians, economists, politicians and ethicists. They stretch my mind and make me feel like an interested, informed person.
It is really the only paper we buy most weeks, but recently I have been buying the daily Australian as well. See, it is running a contest to win a luxury holiday every day. I've sent away envelopes wishing for Paris, Venice, Hayman Island, New Zealand, Switzerland, Rome, Hong Kong and Singapore. You can bet that if we win one of those luxury holidays we'll be buying a copy of The Australian Newspaper in the airport newsagent to read on the plane.
Which paper would you take?