Thursday 25 March 2010

A tale of two papers

We had a nasty end to a police chase this week - one idiot car thief smashed into a car being driven by what turned out to be another crim, and four people died. The interesting thing is how the SMH and the Daily Telegraph handled the story.

Let's look at the feedback from the readers.

The SMH published 8 letters on Tuesday on the subject, and I reckon that six of them were not supportive of the cops pursuing criminals. In other words, a typically wet, soft cock approach from the SMH.

The Telegraph ran a story and invited readers to comment, and they got 163 comments - a better sample size. I read through the first 60, and found only 1 that liked the idea of stopping police chases. The other 59 generally wanted car thieves to be flogged, jailed, flayed and so on. One even suggesting shooting out the tyres of criminals (and that wasn't posted by me by the way).

Either the editors at the SMH have weeded out all the flog-em and hang-em type letters, or the typical reader of the SMH really is a complete socialist dishrag.

My take on it is this - the SMH only really sells in the metrosexual parts of Sydney; no one west of George St buys it. The Telegraph is the paper of the western suburbs - the battlers. Where are most cars stolen? Out west. Who are the main victims of crime? Those out west. Who can least afford to be a victim of crime? The battlers out west.

Compare two families. You have your typical high income eastern suburbs family with two cars. The cars are fully insured. If one gets stolen, it's a hassle to get by with one car, but the family can afford taxis or a hire car. They probably took the option on their insurance to have a hire car provided in case of this eventuality. At worst, they can rely on public transport to get around. They can walk to their local shops if need be. The kids can also walk to school, as the area is quite compact. Their car is trashed and written off. Leasing a replacement BMW is not an issue - they have good credit, and the dealer brings the car to them for a test drive. The paperwork is a doddle. Car theft is a minor inconvenience.

The other family is out west. They are on the median income - $50,000. They have one car, 10 years old. It is not fully insured, as they can't afford the premiums. They certainly didn't choose the hire car option on their insurance - they couldn't afford that either. They have no public transport in their area. They can't get the kids to school. They can't get to the shops, which are 5km away. They can't get to work. They can't even get to the Police station to do the paperwork. The car is discovered, burned to a crisp. They get $5,000 back on insurance, and now have to go through all the hassle of buying a new car - once the cheque comes through. Until then, the breadwinner either gets a lift to work, or the pay cheque stops coming in. They have no spare cash in the bank - they are living off their credit cards already. The theft of their car could drive them into bankruptcy. It's an extremely stressful ordeal.

Car theft doesn't happen to SMH readers. Hell, half of them probably don't own a car, relying on a bicycle of train to get around. They probably applaud the destruction of each car as a way of saving Gaia. But it happens to Telegraph readers, and they're fed up and pissed off.

It's interesting to see just how far apart Sydney-siders can be, when they live no more than an hour apart.


Karl Mayerhofer said...

Where did your Eastern Suburbs expertise come from? That stupid newspaper (a friend who wrote for it once told me the journalists are told to tailor their writing to 9-year-olds!)? I live (and was raised) in the heart of the East(within coo-ee of one of Sydney's most violent pubs), five minutes walk from a beach, and I am willing to bet my second-hand CRT TV that your household is a lot wealthier than mine. I drive a 15-year-old Subaru wagon (shared with my partner; CTP only), drink at the RSL with the rest of the real people, and sneer at anyone with the sort of privileged vehicular situation you seem to think we all experience. Cut the flawed generalisations, Mr Talkback Radio. It's the nouveau riche invaders from the west who are ruining this place. Us normal folk, no-one seems to notice we're all still here.

Boy on a bike said...

Spent a decade living in the east, 10 minute walk from the beach. Couldn't afford a car at all. Lived in some complete dumps. I have a reasonable idea of what it is like to live in the east.

Have a look at the Australian Bureau of Statistics site at some point and examine all the indicators for wealth, income, debt, literacy etc and compare east with west. Then try visiting a newsagency out west early in the morning and count the number of SMHs on sale vs Daily Telegraphs. Get on a train at Central just in from the west and count the papers left on seats. You can even pay us a visit.

PS - my 2nd hand car turns 12 this year.

Boy on a bike said...

Maybe you should move out this way, where living is cheaper. I loved living in the east, but the expenses were crippling. Life does exist west of George St. It took me a long time to get over that prejudice.

Karl Mayerhofer said...

I have lived out west actually. I've lived in the west of Sydney. Also lived west of the freakin' mountains. Always bought both papers (PLUS the local while west of Sydney). News from one source isn't worth diddley.

And I never said one thing denying that the east is wealthier on average - the key there is "on average". I just said your generalisation was flawed, which is why generalisations are generally worth diddley, General Einstein. You confirmed that by contradicting your own generalisation with this: "Couldn't afford a car at all. Lived in some complete dumps." Freakin' still LOOOOAAADS of people like that around here. We are certainly not atypical - the extreme wealth of a privileged minority seriously distorts the stats.

And while I'm not rich, my standard of living is just fine, thank you. I like it here and no yuppy is going to drive me away. For this reason, I will have to graciously decline your thoughtful invitation.