A tiny window into The Age might reveal quite a bit

A few months ago we stopped our iPad Age subscription.


This week I received an email from The Age.


I am not sure how to describe my reaction. Perhaps I will after the Bex and the lie down take effect.


I know it’s just an email survey. But actually it’s not, it’s a bit more.


I spent time (too much time) thinking about the understandings that underpin this survey yesterday. And some of the phrases.


It seems to me that The Age has had a strategy day at which it was decided the direction of the paper should be mapped by those who crave electronic devices.


I hope the Chief Justice wins it. Or the director of the NGV. Perhaps the head of oncology at the Royal Melbourne. Or the uni student who pours beers at the North Fitzroy Arms.


Your thoughts please:



Dear John


We understand you have recently chosen to end your subscription with The Age, however we would love to know a bit more about your readership and news preferences.  Your opinion and feedback will help us deliver premium products and content. Depending on your answers, the survey should take approximately 15 minutes to finish. 

In appreciation of your time, you will enter the draw to win one of ten $100 VISA gift cards and one lucky winner will win an Apple iPad Pro 10.5 inch 62GB Wi-Fi + Cellular. 

Thank you in advance for your time and interest in helping us to provide you with the highest quality news, news products and innovations.



The Age  



About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie10. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. G’day JTH,

    If I were you, I would be honest with the newspaper informing them that I am very disappointed to see Rohan Connolly leaving The Age. Then I would just get a prize and never subscribe the online edition of The Age at all.

    I hope it helps.



  2. SNAP – As a still (just) Age IPad subscriber I got the same email yesterday. I filed it under “more marketing crap pretending to care and be interested in your views”. Just like political parties.
    As someone who 25 years ago read 4 newspapers a day (ok – in 3 I didn’t get past the pull-out form guide) I have paid the $25 a month for the Age IPad subscription since 2013.
    The West Australian is provincial rubbish. I buy it on Saturday only together with the Weekend Oz.
    I get my international sport from the BBC app. Politics from the New Yorker daily email and the Guardian.
    Thinking about what I read and why I read, I realise that its mainly the lifestyle stuff – books, films, travel, wine and food. I scarcely bother with “news”. TV or print. Its all PR spin and ambulance chasing. I do like to read overarching analysis/thematic pieces on social/public policy issues. But its rarely written by journalists. The op-ed pages in newspapers or the Conversation website (also in financial strife) best pieces generally come from external observers – not in-house writers.
    Yoshi’s FA article on Rohan Connolly leaving The Age and the following thoughtful comments have crystallised that the “value add” of journalistic knowledge/wisdom winnowing events/information into a credible narrative has all but disappeared.
    The Age has hollowed itself out (assisted by market forces and social media technology) to the point where it just accumulates reports – it rarely analyses and explains. It is a conspirator in its own demise.
    I worry about what it all means for the future of democracy and the rise of our local despots (Donald’s, Gillon’s or James’s). I have lived long enough to be able to assemble my own disparate sources of information and make my own judgements. But where are The Ties that Bind?
    “Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.”
    Yeats wrote that nearly a hundred years ago, but we have survived and prospered through terrible wars and economic disasters. That gives me cause for optimism. Probably I am just too immersed in the ways of the past to understand how the future unfolds.

  3. Ben Footner says

    Newspapers are all but dead as a pay per issue business model, mostly because they have become nothing more than the propaganda tool of the privileged.

    They don’t print facts with considered interpretation anymore, but rather trade in sensationalism, alarmism, and faux outrage. Even football coverage has mostly succumbed to these gutter level strategies.

    I picked up The Advertiser here at work the other day and couldn’t believe how thin it was. I would not mourn it’s death.

  4. Tell them if they get out of the circus you might look at their rag again.

    But the fact that they need this survey should tell us all a lot.

    A newspaper asking the question that has troubled and perplexed mankind since the dawn of time: Why am I here?

  5. And Flanners hanging up the boots I see.

  6. E.regnans says


    Unknowable times ahead for the trade of information; harvesting of opinion.
    Contributors to news outlets seem to trade to some degree in ability to write, but more importantly, in ability to sensationalise.
    Clicks, clicks.
    The measurable (and therefore somehow worthy) metric of clicks.
    Never mind influence, nor thought, nor human connection.
    Never mind, in sad fact, the blurring of heroic, researched, true journalism and mere trifling opinion pieces.

    Social media, with its personally attended censorship and editing, sees the gulf of misunderstandings grow ever wider; the likelihood of showing or even of requiring empathy for an alternative viewpoint diminish.

    Rant, rant.
    Cajole, twist, blame.
    Like. Like. Share.

    What hope has a news outlet anymore, to be read by Jo Citizen, when so much else captivates, calls, lures.

    As a business model, news outlets cannot be sustained because they are evidently not valued. We’re happy to pay nothing for our information; reading things by amateurs to do so. We do this exactly when information should be seen as a form of currency itself, look at our (global) politicians; our corporate leaders. We need to be informed about their behaviour. By independent sources.
    We don’t think about information in the way that we think about other “commodities.” We pay a fair price for our bread. Now, without The Age as a solid, questioning, independent voice, we will find ourselves a step closer to living in circuses; circuses.
    Where the rich and powerful are more unchecked than before.

    A central tenet of democracy – that of an informed public – slips more each day.
    What would Plato say?

  7. E.regnans says

    And in the above, I failed to address the explicit point of your piece, JTH. Though perhaps focussed on an implicit point.

    The email and the vacuous questions therein are a consultants how-to guide, of course. A box-ticking exercise for the weekly leadership team meeting; for the executive to nod over before moving to the next agenda item.

    You wouldn’t think it possible to screw up a simple human interaction like: “how are you?”
    But it’s happened before and it will happen again. They’ve done a good job of it here; with its associated alienation.

  8. A survey? That is what a once-great newspaper is reduced to now?

    I have been a $30 per month subscriber (digital & Sat/Sun deliveries) for a number of years now, but this week’s departures might just be the final straw. Particularly with Flanagan leaving today.

  9. John Butler says

    Fairfax can hardly complain about not being valued when its own management has treated the people who produce its product as dispensable. In the whole process of blundering its way down the sink hole, management has progressively trashed its own brand.

    But, as in all similar situations, management don’t sack management, thus ensuring the spiral continues.

  10. Pamela Sherpa says

    Simply tell them that you have more important things to spend
    your money on – such as feeding your family.

  11. Just seen that Martin Flanagan has written his last column for The Age. I rarely buy it any more but there will be barely anything worth reading.

  12. See what you’re missing out on, John? Headline from the Daily Living section of the Sunday Age. Shark jumped. Is Anson still on the payroll? I didn’t see his piece this weekend. I guess they had to make space for this:
    “Have Roxy Jacenko and Sara Huegill fallen out again?
    After a seven-year feud, Roxy Jacenko and Sara Huegill (nee Hills) seemed to have reconciled, with Huegill taking up her former post as publicist for Jacenko’s PR company, Sweaty Betty.
    But less than three months later, the BFFs-turned-frenemies-turned-BFFs again have unfollowed each other on Instagram – the modern-day equivalent of a friendship split.”

  13. Peter Fuller says

    Peter B.
    Just to respond to your question, Anson is in Spectrum (I usually think of it as the Age Literary Supplement) every 2nd week. I don’t know if he has survived the most recent night of the long knives.
    I may add a more reflective comment later, but this 50 year ready is in sympathy with the tenor of the observations? already in the thread.

  14. With the slew of recent departures at The Age, I think I will end my subscription soon.

  15. In the last couple of years or so, from the Sports section alone The Age has lost Richard Hinds, Peter Hanlon, Rohan Connolly, Jake Niall, Martin Blake, Emma Quayle, Samantha Lane, and of course the great Martin Flanagan. That is a huge loss of talent right there.

    And this is not to mention all the other journos in news etc.

  16. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Not to mention JTH and Gigs, Smokie

  17. I am reminded of the old Wayne and Schuster joke.
    “When I was 10 years old my home ran away from me.”
    “You mean you ran away from home.”
    “No we lived in a covered wagon and I fell out.”
    The Age is galloping off having thrown out the cavalry as “excess baggage”. Like Channel 10 I expect it to soon be surrounded by marauding Apaches.
    I am sure Martin and Rohan etc will not suffer much from “the fall”. Just find different wagon trains not led by General Custer.

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