In all, our town is blessed with pretty decent newspapers by way of The Canberra Times and, to a lesser extent, let’s not fail to mention the Chronicle.
Both do a great job ferreting out local news when, to many people, it would appear no print-worthy news has actually occured. National coverage and standard of journalism remain high – if only The Canberra Times readership were held to the same standards.
I am of course referring to those incessant Letters To Editor contributors – you know who I’m talking about!
There was a time when I thought The Daily Telegraph took the prize as the most blatant publisher of ignorant, xenophobic and just plain stupid letters to the editor, but lately The Canberra Times has been making a strong bid for the title.
In the past few weeks we’ve covered such hard-hitting issues as: cyclists in the ANU precinct not wearing helmets (the nerve!), biting ants discovered in local garden and men who DARE, yes DARE to leave the house face unshaven.
Ok, these are just the nuts who come out with a letter occasionally, blissfully ignorant and with no opinion on wars, politics, health, education and other small stuff.
Then we have their enlightened brethren, the cranks, who appear to have an opinion on absolutly everything and whose letters are published with such consistency one wonders why the CT has not offered them their own column.
There are two factors contributing to the problem. Firstly, Canberra is full of bored, often retired academics with little to occupy their minds. In the prime of their dotage, they’ve chosen to take up increasingly wacky causes and cruelly subjected unwitting readers to them via the mass media.
Secondly, The Canberra Times is dreadfully short of worthy contributors. While many will read the paper, few will contribute in any intelligent or legible form. If you thought letters published sound crazy, you can imagine the content of those the CT didn’t print!
To be fair, there are plenty of decent contributions to the Letters page – I’m thinking mainly Geoff Pryor – but over the past few years the insidious whims of the vocal minority have made credible inroads via the Letters to Editor page, to the detriment of our community.
Take careful note of those who wish to ‘nanny-up’ this town, in particular the animal-rights and anti-cycling movements in Canberra. Animals don’t belong on plates and bicycles don’t belong on roads, we’re told.
Publish a story on a dog frightened by fireworks and the letters flood in – publish a story on a homeless man living in a tent on Mount Ainslie and the public turns mute.
In times of global warming, obesity and increased petrol costs, many countries have embraced cycling lanes on roads – in this town people call for those lanes to be ripped up.
But don’t think people who love their cars get it easy either. Stay tuned for calls to ban Summernats next month (despite being in operation for 20 years!), much like the GMC 400 which “inconvenienced people” and “made a lot of noise.”
So say your little bit in the CT Letters page if you like, but do it to add value to our community, not to exercise your delusions.