An era - albeit a very short one - has come to an end up here in national party heartland. My favourite scurrilous rag, the Port Paper, announced its own demise last last week. Claiming it had become the victim of bullying and intimidation, the PP reported that its detractors had found a novel way to crush "one of the region's truly independent media sources." Apparently its advertisers and sponsors were "repeatedly threatened by mostly unnamed gutless wonders" and the PP could no longer afford itself. Its advertisers, continued the article on the front page, were told (presumably by the unnamed gutless wonders) they would lose business if they continued to advertise with the PP.
The big black headline stated that "Oakeshott Misleads Public". Directly underneath was a definition of bullying. The inference seemed to be that Rob Oakeshott was the cause of the bullying that forced the PP into shut down mode. Under the article was a big blank space, entitled, strangely enough, blank space.
The PP first appeared just before the last state election. It came out twice a week, was home delivered, and seemed to me to exist almost solely to rubbish Peter Beseling (who was the sitting indepenent MP in Port Macquarie) and Rob Oakeshott. It dropped to one paper per week after the election, and we expected it to disappear after its home delivery ceased. Rumours flew around it was a National Party front. The PP denied this claim. It claimed it was giving the Hastings community a voice, and published their views without "fear or favour" and that it provided "the news no one else would."
I can certainly vouch for this last claim. Not only did it provide views and news that no one else would, I am sure this was because it largely invented them. According to the PP, the earth is cooling, it is probably flat, Tony Windsor is not to be trusted, and it always acted ethically.
Mmmmmmm. Not sure about that last claim. Especially in the light of page 3, where the PP published the emails sent by a local business owner, who stated that he refused to use the services of the paper, and that he would not use the services of those who advertised with them. This was because he felt the PP was inflammatory and one sided in its reporting. He also stated he was a supporter of the local member. This, says the PP, is why their demise was untimely and guaranteed. Oakeshott supporter calles for boycott of PP advertisers.
The email from the local business man was sent on 25 August. The PP announced its death on 1 September. A week is apparently a long time in influential discouragement of advertising. Long enough for the PP to go broke and have lots of spaces (well, two in the news section and six under the TV guide) and face ruin.
The only thing that was clearly truthful to me was the long standing dislike of Mr Oakeshott that shone like a sickly beacon from many of its pages. They stopped short of calling him the devil incarnate, but did report his apparent bizarre rants about cats and astro turf which were meant to silence this supposedly courageoous local rag.
I will miss the PP, and my favourite columnist, Mr Carp in his corner. Where will my inspiration come from now? Where will I go to read such journalistic gems as Rob Oakeshott ranting about astro turf and to learn that green policies will cost a bomb because wind turbines are inefficient? Or that a Royal Commission is the ony way to answer frocking (sic) questions - provided it does not refer to the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change who are not unbiased and independent, like the PP itself.
Vale, Carp. My week will not be the same without your carping on. Heck, my blog will be severely impovershed without your weekly rants. Hopefully you will find other places to exercise your talent in mangling language, and wilful misunderstanding of issues.