Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Dear Sydney Morning Herald, re March In March

Dear Sydney Morning Herald, re March In March

Dear Sydney Morning Herald, re March In March

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:

Dear SMH,

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

In case you wanted to see what you missed – here is a beautiful video from the Melbourne march: http://vimeo.com/89244643


Timothy Pembroke

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