Tuesday, March 06, 2007

NZ Listener now to be available as soothing Gel

A reader commented about the Listener's falling circulation. A while back, I wrote the following for Craccum and posted it on Kete Were as satire; it may well be useful to the Listener's publishers as a marketing proposal.

Following top-level discussions at APN Media, it was today announced that the New Zealand Listener would now be produced in three formats: print, web and gel. Editor Pamela Stirling commented: "our market research shows that readers can find it quite stressful to read about the dangers of botox poisoning, the imminent decline in house values or the worrying trends in garden design. So what better way to relax than with Listener Gel? It rejuvenates the skin, removes unsightly blemishes and calms aching muscles. Best of all, it removes middle-class anxiety in an instant."

Responding to criticism that this new format represents a dumbing down or smoothing out of the long-established literary and political magazine, Stirling commented, "New Zealand Listener readers are not the same demographic as they used to be and our paradigm must achieve synergy with their lifestyle priorities. We like to call our product range New Listener, because we have responded to focus groups just like that nice Mr Blair has done with his New Labour, which of course is not the same as that grumpy old New Labour we once had here."

Warming to her theme, Stirling continued: "our readers enjoy the finer things in life. They are achievers and trend-setters, who want to spend their high disposable incomes on products that make them look good and feel good. They deserve it. They have worked hard and played hard. Now it is time to unwind."

"Since I became Editor," she continued, "we have managed to remove almost all traces of the difficult stuff which used to fill up the old Listener's pages. It really used to be quite hard work reading all that political commentary and those cranky reviews of difficult books that nobody I knew ever bought. I don't think our readers want all those boring, intellectual things cluttering up their aspirational lives. I know our advertisers don't!"

"Still, the Listener is not all about holiday destinations and tasty treats for summer barbecues. Many of our lead articles are very challenging. Some are really quite icky. This could be a problem. The consumers who fit our readership profile like to chill-out after an invigorating pilates session by enjoying a glass of unoaked gewurztraminer and the company of some business friends. We would not like their sparkling conversation to be impaired by the thought that some hair products might cause cancer or that the costs of vein replacement therapy are spiralling out of control. We try to make all our stories about boomers positive and uplifting, but the reality is they still fear their lives are effectively past them and they will die embittered and lonely."

"That's where Listener Gel comes in. Its special compounds, suffused with aloe vera and hand-pressed extra virgin olive oil, simply take away all sense of existential crisis. It removes the worry and makes you feel like a consumer again."

"Best of all, add it to pan-fried snapper on a bed of wilted spinach and it makes a delicious meal for friends and family alike. Listener Gel: it beats thinking every time."


harvestbird said...

This is one of my favourite posts authored by your fair hand. While I've never actually passed off its conceit as my own in conversation, I am guilty of only mumbling the attribution to ye.

Anonymous said...

I knew Stirling's ship was sinking when my mother (who has been a regular reader of the aforementioned book reviews and political commentary since 1066) cancelled her sub three months ago.

She put it down to missing Braunius.....

Anonymous said...

I grew up under the unilateral TINA state of Douglas and then Richardson, and so also before the webverse and it's dizzying array of alternate viewpoints was available. The Listener was the only reliable source of rigorous debate and critical analysis of Government policy that was available to a poor boy from the provinces at that time and it kept me afloat in the New Right wash that swept through most of the New Zealand media at the time, (and still now). Ahh, Denis Welch, how I love thee... and so it makes me sad that the vandals have finally broken over the ramparts of this magazine and pulled it down into the shit. Pamela Stirling, Joanne Black et-al, you are not journalists, you are insipid, pathetic and mediocre at best, with no obvious curiosity about the world around you and the intellectual barrenness of a slug who works in advertising or PR. I hope you all catch a horrible disease and die, horribly. R.I.P Listener, you deserved better. P.S. I feel much better now, having written that. Maybe my therapist was right.

Anonymous said...

Repositioning the Listener as a 'lifestyle magazine' was clearly a major tactical error for APN. Sadly, the soothing gel form may not be enough to save it (particularly as they haven't found a way to turn the cryptic crossword into a paste.)

Anonymous said...

If you want critical journalism do catch the interview with Chris Hedges on RadioNZ Tuesday this week:


He is a prize-winning journalist and author of a new book: "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America". Unfortunately, Kathryn Ryan didn't seem to get his point that the kinds of Christians he is talking about are not benign.

peterquixote said...

the Listener has been a piece of socialist garbage for about twenty years now, thats why it has continuously falling circulation, oblivion soon, cant understand any self respecting journalist going there,