I see where, over on sluggerotoole.com, Mick Fealty is going all thoughtful and running a professional eye over The Irish Times, which today apparently has adopted a new format. It’s not gone tabloid but it hasn’t stayed broadsheet either. Somewhere in between.
Mick says things like “The Berliner is a personal favorite of mine, not least because it has the kind of charm of the unusual you get from like the quarto and octavo in books or magazines... The new Irish Times is much less radical, as I suspect was the intention. The size is identifiably broadsheet, but is also double tabloid size. So it sits handily inside the Irish Indo for instance.”
Is Mick taking the mickey? Personally I don’t give a monkey’s whether the Irish Times sits handily inside the Irish Indo or not. For two reasons.
The first is because I’d rather scoop my eyes out with a soup spoon than buy The Indo, and on the rare occasion I buy The Irish Times I either read it or shove it in my coat pocket. In fact these days I do virtually all my newspaper reading online. Two years ago I realised that, apart from the expense, I was cluttering up the house and eating into my time by buying and then feeling obliged to read two newspapers every day. So I stopped and I can’t tell you how cleansing it feels.
The second reason I think the Irish Times format is not worth discussing is not the reason Mick suggests - that inside five years all newspaper reading will have migrated online. It’s because I think it’s infinitely more important what the paper says than what size or shape it is. Do its journalists and columnists report the truth or do they bend to the pressures of editor and owner? Do they treat the north as somewhere ‘up there’ or do they afford it the same space and attention as any other part of the country? Do they do profiles of the rich and famous or do they deal with real issues?Those are questions worth spending ink on - not on whether one slips neatly within the other. For God’s sake, Mick - that’s near cat-walk talk.
What I would welcome is a discussion of how Irish - and English - national newspapers will deal with 2016. And how many of them will have the cojones to print the editorial line they took on Easter Week one hundred years earlier?
It’s the message that counts, Mick, not the handwriting.