Tuesday, 4 August 2009
A grim story has appeared, suggesting that the Observer newspaper might be in trouble and could close. God I hope not. Writing a column for them is the toughest thing I do - it’s not coal-mining, but writing a 900 word piece each week is about a million times more arduous and nerve-wracking than playing poker or presenting TV shows, both of which are quite easy and fun and it’s a miracle that I can also make a bit of money from doing them. I also love writing; I’m very proud to scrape a living from it, and would write even if I didn’t have anywhere to publish it. Nevertheless, that column.. I struggle, I struggle. I have nightmares about what if there’s nothing to write about, what if I can’t think of anything to say, what if there’s a blank space in the paper, what if the horrid posters on CiF are right… and sometimes it takes me days to get it finished. If there were no Observer to write it for, I imagine life would be much less stressful and homeworky.
Nevertheless, it’s a brilliant paper. Never mind writing for it, it’s the one I read. I love its outlook, its liberality, its mix of light and dark, its readiness to include some humour, its supplements, its columnists and staff. There just isn’t another paper as good. I struggle through the homework every week because I’m so proud to write for a paper that I think is so well done. It would be incredibly sad if the Obs didn’t exist; a big sad empty space every Sunday.
I have no idea whether Facebook groups ever achieve anything - sometimes I worry that clicking “join” on a protest group siphons off cross-energy that people might otherwise spend on something really noticeable like writing letters or going on marches. But Not Wanting The Observer To Close isn’t really a protest, it’s not like taking a stand against wars or bankers. It’s just a feeling that should be out there in the world. So, when somebody sent me a link to this ‘Save The Observer’ Facebook group, I joined it immediately - do join if you think that a world without the Obs would be a sad thing. And far more importantly, please buy the paper! Hurry out for it on Sunday, to show that we do all still like reading things that are written at length and printed on paper, we don’t have to consume EVERYTHING in 140 characters or one soundbite of TV news. We can turn pages, we can read, we can read.