The Saturday Paper

Review: Media

the SATURDAY PAPER

These are our comments on the Schwartz Media weekly publication, The Saturday Paper. It is available in most states and is also available in a subscription online version. (this version revised 14 May 2014)

I ventured into a commitment to this initiative by subscribing early for the digital version. After week or two I came to realise that I did not like the online version infrastructure and decided to seek to change my subscription over to a hard copy version. I was totally prepared to pay the extra that to have the pleasure of sitting anywhere to read the hard copy issues.

I am a happy subscriber to The Monthly. This is usually a very good read and the quality of its journalism is always very good. As with any such magazine, not all articles interest me every time, but the magazine remains a must read each month.

The Saturday Paper is a near cousin to The Monthly. Its style and target audience must be about the same. I cannot imagine the shock jock audience picking up a copy.

The trouble I had with the online version was that I had no real feel for any form of document. In reality it is just another WordPress blog and therefore the new stories are mixed in with the previous. This is not a Saturday newspaper but a news-blog that is updated weekly. I subscribe to a couple of other online magazines and enjoy that fact that each month I can read each as an individual magazine online.

As I had failed to make successful contact with the subscription department about changing to a hard copy subscription version, I went to the local newsagent and bought a copy of the 3rd May issue. I was impressed.

There is no doubt that the hard copy version presents so much better than the online blog version. This also means that unlike the digital version, there is the pleasure of taking the paper version easily onto a couch, take to the coffee shop, read while sitting on the front porch, take back to bed or anywhere else. Being hard copy, you have a single issue to read through rather than to make your way around the blog to decipher which articles belong to the current issue.

I have seen a criticism of the style of this newspaper. I am afraid that when it comes to the hard copy, I think it looks fine.

As I would say of any magazine or paper, then it comes down to the quality of articles that can be extracted from writers. The Saturday Paper does have some very good writers with the occasional dud.

For instance in the 3rd May issue there was the article on architecture. This was a classic case of pure ‘Project Porn” written by a senior practitioner who is member of the well-known and notorious Sydney Architectural Club. They do a great job or promoting themselves through all media.  Boring! (when I get a chance I will provide my own review of this particular site – delayed as weather intervened twice on recent trips to Sydney)

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Project porn is a term introduced to me by a UK colleague. He used this term to describe the professional magazine style project write-ups that are simply just professional promotion; often written by colleagues about colleagues; and usually not really critical – being more just for show – as in porn – to be enjoyed by the professions admiring themselves and their colleagues.

Project Porn is all about the designers and not about the user, the general public. There is usually nothing about the public’s experience of the site or building. Project porn articles are usually written in a certain boring architectural language – as was this one. Very boring and not engaging or informative!

Any recommendation for The Saturday Paper is given provided there is no more architectural project porn articles. As my colleague said, there are mountains of project porn articles available in the various professional trade magazines. We do no need any more of this self promotional stuff in real life magazines and newspapers such as The Saturday Paper. The request to the editors of The Saturday Paper is that they seek to publish urban and architectural articles about how urban developments, sites and buildings succeed (or not) for the people who use them, for the general public and to comment on the visitor experience (more on project porn later).

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The online version of The Saturday Paper is not something that I could recommend highly. I would be happier if each issue was a separate document rather than just being an endless blog that is updated.

The Saturday Paper as a hard copy is a good read, has nice pics, has a welcoming graphical and clean style and is therefore the much preferred option.

Now if I can get their subscription department to either return my calls or even to answer the three emails I have sent them, then maybe I could become far more enthusiastic about the hard copy of The Saturday Paper.

UPDATE 14 May: success, I have made contact and had my subscription upgraded – yah!!

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Recommendation: The Saturday Paper blog  online: 6/10

Recommendation: The Saturday Paper 3rd May hard copy: 8/10*

(*this would be 9/10 with no project porn article)

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Paul Costigan, 8 May 2014

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