Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Well not quite, but just as rare.

After two years of aggressive lobbying by Jon Langevad, the City of Port Phillip has DROPPED parking rates for the Port Melbourne tourist precinct between Bay Street and Melbourne’s international sea gateway, Station Pier.

Deep breath.

“This is probably the first time in at least 2000 years a local council has actually reduced fees and watch this space because Port Melbourne beachfront is going to be dragged out of a ‘who cares’ mindset into a place of action, history and excitement”, said Jon Langevad.

“This is a huge mindset step forward for Port Phillip Council as they have finally recognised parking is actually provided to attract destination visitors but if they jack the fees too high revenue decreases because people avoid the area. In the past Council implemented fees to “dissuade” tourists and destination visitors, but now they have seen the light and recognise the importance of making this fabulous ‘tourist’ area approachable and affordable.”

Being slightly pushy and somewhat tenacious Mr Langevad invited his local member, the Premier and two of his Ministers to join him with the Port of Melbourne Corporation and the Council along with Arts Victoria and NGV to create something special for Melbourne as part of an open development team. So far Martin Foley [MP] has been very supportive as has Stephen Bradford [CEO PoMc] and now Kay Rundle [CEO Port Phillip] seems to be also of like train of thought.

“To be fair, the Council has had a great urban design framework for the area for years but unfortunately it seems to have been filed under ‘too hard’”. Mr Langevad also said, “We need to make sure the shame that is Princes Pier does not repeat itself by bringing all the design parties together into one space to deal openly with the opportunities.”

He also said, “This stretch of beach could rival Rio or Antigua or any number of great tourist destinations not to mention San Francisco or indeed those strange northerners, Sydney people and their harbour.”

The impetus for change has been created and the first results are in.

“We need to keep it going”.

Jon Langevad

Director Café Dansk Pty Limited trading as Deco Bistro 49 Beach Street Port Melbourne.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dear Mr Age and Ms Rinehart,

I want to thank you both for deeming such a wonderfully inclement morning on Sunday past.  We raised the blind on rain, sleet and darkish cold yet remained closeted within a tunnel of yummy down.  We just added a steaming cup of tea and Saturday’s Age.  Heaven.

My first lecturer at university some 40 years ago told us on day one that “We at Melbourne University read the Age” implying that other papers were not up to the same level of either reporting or journalism.  This has stuck as has an innate desire to wrestle with the glorious broadsheet format where there is lots of stuff on a page.  It does challenge the slightly pulpy Sunday morning brain by requiring some degree of dedication and indeed alacrity to manage the size but it’s well worth the two hour effort!  We read reports about happenings all over the world, dribbled over a few cars, scan read the ads and stuff of lesser interest,  went travelling all over the place and really enjoyed some of the authored and journalistic pieces [Tony Wright is always great].

We regret running out of reading. 

The instant-news ‘android-tablet’ reader will never understand nor will they understand that the world would be a poorer place without broadsheets.

We even read about Ms Rinehart and her rising angst against The Age.  I find her motives confusing as I find the Board’s response bemusing. Still, far be it from me to understand the thought processes of the billionaires or the power struggles surrounding boardroom martini machinations.

There are too many numbers to ignore the fact that print media is in some degree of doo doo and indeed fairly obvious that not enough has changed in The Age to remedy dropping [sic] relevance for a changing market.

All of us want instant news.  Simple fact. 

Therefore it would seem relevant and appropriate to meet those reporting needs as well as the needs of people who care about the stuff behind the clinical reports.  Perhaps there is an answer to meet both markets head on whilst retaining much sought after integrity.

However and firstly, get over the notion of journalistic integrity while you have sub-editors concocting by-lines designed to excite and amaze instead of just identifying a story and, journalists who are actually human with real feelings and opinions.

Hence the difference between reporters and journalists.  Reporters scribe what’s happened and journalists tell us why it’s happened.  Add on an editor or two with a political persuasion and it becomes obvious that journalistic integrity is what the paper wants it to be.  But note, this is a good thing because without ‘human’ journalists with a brain we sneak back to 1984 and big brother.

But, Mr Age and Ms Rinehart, perhaps there is a way forward.

Imagine our beautiful broadsheet with masthead oozing integrity and editorial insight with page one dedicated to the big stories continued by a journalist within the paper on page ‘x’.  I personally would love to see the beginnings of an editorial on the front page about the lead story by one of the aforementioned egomanic journalists. 

Mr Age, feed my brain, create thought, enable debate.  Even with my Sunday morning pulpy brain I want to be challenged.

But the big change would be pages 2 and 3.  I believe both these pages should be dedicated to android phone sized reporting with a photo and say 200 words.  Instant news for the masses, similar to the existing ‘World Tour’ on page 14, and in a format which would zip straight onto a phone or tablet.  Both markets in one hit and at the front of the paper.  A perfect example could be the lead story ‘Mega Failure’ from last Saturday.  The ‘report’ states the facts but it would also be fascinating for a journalist to write something on just why a foreign agency was allowed into NZ to raid a property and take documents out of the country; with the help of local police.   Last line of the report – “go to page 17 for Tony Wright’s analysis”.
Pages 4 through ‘x’ would be dedicated to this sort of real journalism, to appeal to the rest of Melbourne.  A newspaper with class, insight and integrity and one that is relevant to gen ‘x’ and us baby boomers. 

Advertisements are good on a number of levels but keep them separate from journalism and no ads on pages 1, 2 or 3.  In terms of ads, we personally  do not have a ‘No junk mail’ sticker on our letterbox because we want to know what’s happening out there, who is offering what and if there is anything we would like to take advantage of.  Same for The Age.  Look at the Office Works ad and be amazed at the tumbling cost of external hard drives or ogle yet another Persian Rug closing down sale or peruse an ad for a new chairperson at The Age [sic] or contemplate a job leading the Melbourne Writers Festival.  All interesting and informative.

For the weekend, throw in the add-ons such as Drive, Travel, GW and all the rest but perhaps go back to broadsheet because if nothing else, it’s a point of difference and for deities’ sake it’s a ‘newspaper’ and meant to be devoured and thrown away post doo doo wrapping.  It’s cheap, nasty, supports thousands of jobs in a sustainable logging industry, reports the facts but also creates angst, enables debate, is opinionated and embodies what makes Australia great. 

My personal opinion of Alan Jones is not very high nor do I agree with Andrew Bolt a lot of the time and I am sad to see Michelle Grattan confuse facts with journalism as a labour party pillar.  But I am not a complete idiot and can see through the verbiage and can make up my own mind as long as reporting is separated from journalism.  A really good example is Jon Faine on Aunty of a morning.  He barely keeps his own feelings under wraps at times when dealing with guests and callers yet, manages to seem unbiased, fair and engenders an intelligent response.  Every now and again he goes a little berserk and that’s good.  His ego as a thinking human being lurches to his mouth.  Unfortunately, with other radio hosts and politicians the connection between brain and mouth is somewhat challenged.

Perhaps, The Age can help bring people to task and engender a new level of intellectual discussion.  Tony Windsor’s comment when referring to the leader of  our alternative federal government as a “rabid dog” during a walk through interview at some airport is appalling and shows a level of disrespect which has no place in our society.  Jones’ comment about our PM and a hessian bag shows what type of person he is – one to be ignored.   Respect is not earned, it is a God given right.

Ms Rinehart, perhaps your rather direct approach might just be seen as threatening to a bunch of egomanic journalists trying to ply their ‘throw away trade’?  Personally, I love ego as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.  Indeed, without ego, we are merely cadavers. 

The Age IS Melbourne and its intellectualism has benefited our great city for a long long time. 
We need to keep cognisance of falling standards and our heritage.  It’s too easy to spiral into the ‘oh well’ syndrome where all is seen as lost and there is nothing we can do so, let’s have another beer and celebrate our shiny new tablets for what they can do but perhaps not for what they are capable of challenging us with. ‘Look, how exciting, a new app to sort out our sock drawer’.

Sunday morning in bed is great with The Age but, in our case, we need two front sections.  At the moment he or she who wakes first wins the battle.