Reasons to be cheerful

It's not all doom and gloom for British journalism

The possible closure of Britain's oldest Sunday newspaper, the Observer, is just the latest doomy portent to appear to an already beleaguered press. A campaign to save the paper is already gathering pace. But why? For the sake of the people who work there? Because it provides a liberal counterbalance to the right-wing excesses of its rivals? Because the loss of any paper, no matter its political orientation or preference for celebrity-driven content, is a loss for democracy? Sunder Katwala of the Fabian Society and Sunny Hundal over at Liberal Conspiracy have differing, but equally intriguing views on the matter.

Meanwhile, here are three reasons why our media just got a little more diverse, a little more exciting, and a little better-informed:

  1. The Frontline Club has launched a quartely broadsheet devoted to "high-quality" coverage of international politics and culture.
  2. Tribune, the left-wing periodical founded by Aneurin Bevan and that boasts George Orwell as a former literary editor, has relaunched.
  3. Everybody's favourite Jewish anarchist website, Jewdas, is back and better than ever. Jewdas, as if you didn't know, is determined to resurrect "the great radicalism of Jewish tradition, a tradition of dreamers, subversives, cosmopolitans and counter-culturalists." (And unlike elsewhere in the community, you don't have to be Jewish to join in.)

 

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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The mizzly tones of Source FM

Drewzy (male, fortysomething) composedly, gently, talks of “time condensing like dew on a damp Cornish window”.

A mizzly Thursday in Falmouth and the community radio presenters Drewzy and the Robot are playing a Fat Larry’s Band single they picked up in a local charity shop. Drewzy (male, fortysomething) composedly, gently, talks of “time condensing like dew on a damp Cornish window”, and selects a Taiwanese folk song about muntjacs co-operating with the rifles of hunters. The robot (possibly the same person using an electronic voice-changer with a volume booster, but I wouldn’t swear to it) is particularly testy today about his co-host’s music choices (“I don’t like any of it”), the pair of them broadcasting from inside two converted shipping containers off the Tregenver Road.

I am told the Source can have an audience of up to 5,500 across Falmouth and Penryn, although when I fan-mail Drewzy about this he replies: “In my mind it is just me, the listener (singular), and the robot.” Which is doubtless why on air he achieves such epigrammatic fluency – a kind of democratic ease characteristic of a lot of the station’s 60-plus volunteer presenters, some regular, some spookily quiescent, only appearing now and again. There’s Pirate Pete, who recently bewailed the scarcity of pop songs written in celebration of Pancake Day (too true); there’s the Cornish Cream slot (“showcasing artists . . . who have gone to the trouble of recording their efforts”), on which a guest recently complained that her Brazilian lover made her a compilation CD, only to disappear before itemising the bloody tracks (we’ve all been there).

But even more mysterious than the identity of Drewzy’s sweetly sour robot is the Lazy Prophet, apparently diagnosed with PTSD and refusing medication. His presenter profile states, “I’ve spent the last year in almost total isolation and reclusion observing the way we do things as a species.”

That, and allowing his energies to ascend to a whole new plateau, constructing a two-hour Sunday-morning set – no speaking: just a mash-up of movie moments, music, animal and nature sounds – so expert that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in fact someone like the La’s Salinger-esque Lee Mavers, escaped from Liverpool. I’m tempted to stake out the shipping containers.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle