Monday, July 17, 2006

Why the Financial Times is my Weekend Paper; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Liberalism

Does everyone, at some point, realise they've come to a certain place in their life where it's both a social and personal necessity to have the newspaper delivered to their door?

It happened so innocently. This young boy, clever and confident, came to my door last summer with an offer I couldn't refuse - a 7-day subscription to the Toronto Star at a price lower than the cost of weekend paper at the news stand!

This boy, who I'm sure will one day sell air conditioners in Iqualuit (if only that were a description of his future prowess as a merchant), dashed off to an idling mini-van where, I presume, his parents or local paper kingpin (or both) produced the required paperwork to put him one sale closer to a free Schwinn bike (with tassels) or bubble hookah.

And I waited eagerly for that first paper. Then, one morning, a dull thud at the porch. The paperboy! Or, more accurately, the paperguy in his mid-40's with the paisley bellhop's hat. I rushed downstairs, opened the door, and there it lay - my first paper. It wasn't in swaddling or a basket, but for the next few minutes, this paper was my baby.

Unfortunately, unlike the real baby I was home looking after, the daily Toronto Star soon became a pile of unread scrolls left to dessicate at the bottom of our entranceway. Some days we wouldn't even bring the thing inside until the following day. Some baby- some parent.

Then there was the weekend paper. Am I the only one who has trouble reading the Saturday Toronto Star? This enormous beast, a giant prop for the local car manufacturing and real estate industries, and the sheer number of pages devoted to selling you things, or telling you where to buy things, or what kinds of new things there are out there to buy, or where you can go eating while you shop for those new things, or...

Like the previous paragraph, the Saturday newspaper quickly became a burden best abandoned. The only bright spot in all of this was the Sunday Star - Not only could you finish the paper, but there were actually moments when the Star managed to climb out of its intellectually wishy-washy over-earnestness and produce something genuinely interesting.

So I decided, after four short months, to abandon all but the Sunday edition, which is compact, with lots of articles and is overall a decent attempt to raise the intellectual and cultural bar of the paper.

Alas, I needed to fill the newspaper vacuum. I starting buying the Saturday Globe and Mail, but, like any rebound, I enjoyed immensely it for a while but soon found myself bored and looking for something a bit more sophisticated, more exotic. And I found it in the Financial Times.

“Wuzzah?” I hear you saying in your head, “I thought you were some kind of post-structuralist Marxist – what’s a guy who knits his own hemp socks doing buying the Financial Times?”

Well, dear readers, I’ll tell you – it’s a great paper! Despite the title, it bears little resemblance to that corporatist Pravda, the Wall Street Journal. It does have stock prices, but it also has well-written editorials which present a well-thought out, decidedly liberal view of the world. All this on that distinctive salmon-coloured newsprint. Most importantly, and this is who brought me to the paper in the first place, it has Tyler Brûlé.

But that’s for another time.

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