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Helen Razer’s new podcast (and on funding the time to write)

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Not every human opinion is published in haste or on Facebook. Some of it is set down after days—even months—of thought.

“To find the time for thought on arts and culture”. If Daily Review were the sort of place that printed out mission statements, something like this might have been posted in big red typeface on our wall. What we’ve sought to do above all else these past three years—while failing to post any mission statement—is to steal back time for opinion; to steal time back for arts criticism, news and review.

This noble act of theft by Daily Review has been both a great success and—let’s be frank, here—a bit of a fiasco.

First, to the fiasco.

As you know—you’ve glanced at Facebook; you’ve read the arts review of a novice—an opinion can be had in no time flat. But, the opinion worth having, or considering, must be formed. This takes time.

Just about a decade ago, Australia’s broadsheet newspapers lost time. Some publications, like this one, went in search of it. The time to cultivate skill, form opinion or even to gather news was taken quickly from our daily papers. When specialists became generalists; expert opinion was eclipsed by writers expert chiefly in making an online fuss, small enterprises like Daily Review arose to restore what was lost.

Fairfax is now no longer free to take time. The notion that readers crave, deserve or need arts coverage may be correct—it may be still believed by certain employees of that corporation—but the coverage itself can no longer be realised.

The once great arts writing of broadsheets was never sustained by revenues from arts advertising, but almost always from classified sales. Used cars, shared flats, house sales and church fetes. Such items paid for the time of the critic.

We have no classifieds for our criticism.

To take back time for thought, once provided by hundreds of thousands of small print ads, is not an Exciting Challenge. It’s an absolute distraction from the work we believe must be continued, and can, in fact be improved and democratised by the fact of its online home.

Rather than read spreadsheets or of the latest revenue streams for specialty publications, we’d read the diverse work of new writers. We’d rather spend time with a book for review. We’d rather spend time thinking about anything but the retrieval of time. But, if we’re to continue publishing opinions not merely “had” but truly formed by critics, both emerging and established, we must.

This is the stuff of our fiasco. If we retain (1) our stubborn view that this publication must be available at no cost to the many and (2) our principled view that a deep understanding of expressive works can be valuable to the many, we will offer, from time to time, this plea: “donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able.”

We’re hoping that the fiasco created by this era in publishing—and, yes, by our own idealism—resolves itself. We’re working on it. For now, please,  donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able.

Enough of our fiasco. Now, to our success.

Readers. We have them. Lots. We have lots of unusually engaged and critical readers. We can see engagement in our graphs. We see smart criticism in your correspondence and, of course, your comments and in the donations many of you have generously made since we launched our reader appeal in November, 2016.

The high quality and volume of your written responses to art works, art reviews and broader cultural opinion we’ve come to host at Daily Review is a real mood booster—works better than a mission statement. In this nation where arts and arts criticism have their revenues diminished and their importance dismissed, we see hard evidence, provided by you, of enduring, informed passion for arts and culture.

Much of the time, you who comment do so in the spirit of collaboration. A Buckmaster film review or a commentary by Frazer or Kapetopoulos, a bold Pigot report or a Walkley nominated Kelly essay on those conditions, policies and prejudices that diminish art and culture may just be the beginning of a reader conversation. A critical, patient conversation that will advise all of us who review and work in this place.

There are, of course, occasional disputes with the view of the author. Except where I am concerned. Here, disputes are constant, and this is due not only to my style of writing, which some find objectionable, but my occasional habit of telling readers to “jog on”, “eat me” or “read a fucking book, you bell-end.”

Still. In my defence I offer two thoughts: First, I am not only cheered by the overwhelming majority of comments and correspondence I receive from my work at Daily Review, I am also informed by it; Second, I spend FAR more time than is financially feasible on the attempt to tone what may be my irredeemably brash style down.

If you believe my tone is purposely brash or that my criticism and comment is fuelled not by thought but the desire to annoy, I ask either that you simply overlook it, just read the rest of the fine publication and donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able.


Or, I ask you to listen to my podcast. You will find I do my damnedest to tone down my truly bad temper on the page. Not, however, on the venture I have called Knackers and the Vadge. This is me without an editor or keyboard.

The title is a tribute to my past as one half of an FM breakfast radio duo. In this case, co-host Knackers is a small stuffed bear as, I couldn’t find a real person who’d agree to work with me.

My weekly, lengthy conversations are chiefly obsessed with the end of capitalism and rarely touch on art—I’m leaving such a future podcast for Daily Review. Do be warned: there is an awful lot of swearing. I may be heard—at no charge, of course—on iTunesTuneIn or SoundCloud. If you care to, you may sample what may be my irredeemably brash tone in uncensored form.

If you enjoy the podcast, I ask for no funds. Perhaps donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able. If you do not enjoy the podcast, perhaps donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able. Who knows? This might encourage all our critics to provide you with a weekly precis of the publication.

Either way: donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able.

13 responses to “Helen Razer’s new podcast (and on funding the time to write)

  1. It’s beaut that I can read stirring stuff like this for free, but deep down I know it can’t be sustained coz good writers can’t write for free for long and good publications can’t publish for free for long unless there is some form of revenue.
    A decade ago, or maybe even two decades ago or so, conventional wisdom was that so many people would read online stuff for free and attract advertisers to the pot like bees to honey. That didn’t happen and led to sad comments like this, “(And if you’re wondering about that computer generated ad on the right here, well, we live in hope it might generate a fraction of a cent or so per click. So far this month, we’re up to about $3).”
    Now the publishing industry is stuffed and I don’t see a way out of it, unless the future is about going back to the past where people pay for stuff they read or see, back to a time when articles and programs weren’t fucking well called content

    1. Thanks for your comment Peter. Actually I was wrong in my calculations. We haven’t earned $3, we’ve earned $0. If someone actually buys a ticket when they click through on the ad from DR then we will earn a tiny commission. We don’t earn anything no matter how many people click through to the ad itself.

    2. Thanks, P.
      It’s a strange time. Not just for writers, but so many workers.
      Uber is planning driverless cars. Manufacturing in Australia has been overwhelmingly off-shored. When those nations, slaves to the West, become more expensive to pay than a machine, what next?
      This is a time of general crisis in labour and those who do have jobs experience wage stagnation. The percentage of folks doing well is tiny, and dwindling.
      The only option for a publication such as this in the present is request for donation. We could do a subscription model, maybe. But then, so many people would be shut out of reading, and what’s the point of doing general arts criticism as our newspapers once did when it’s available only to a few? (I don’t say paywalling is always a bad thing, btw. It’s just not right for the aims of Ray, once arts editor at The Age, and the guy who runs DR and the guy who also answered your question.)
      We could to advertorial. But, that’s not criticism. And, you know, I would probably not want to participate in that, personally. Occasionally, maybe, to keep DR afloat. But if it became our revenue model? No way.
      So this right now is our only option. Asking those who are so moved and are able to donate.
      I am so grateful for the generosity of others. Especially as I am pretty fussy about where my donations go. Honestly, it’s only to Médecins Sans Frontières regularly, and a few causes as one offs.
      I am just so grateful that there are those who want to fund arts writing.

  2. -\0987Helen:

    My wife Zanna, and I, have donated $20, which, as pensioners, means 6 take-away coffees. The Daily Review, along with a small number
    of other deserving causes such as Wikipedia, 350, Get-Up, PETA, etc. means we never exceed our caffeine limits in any one year.

    Such is the lot of the pensioner/s – not that we begrudge it. We no doubt get value for money.

    Just keep on keeping on Helen. It is you and others who make it all worthwhile!

    We’ve resisted Podcasts until now, however, for the sake of a verbal merkin, we have determined to mend our ways. We have
    engaged the services of my teckie nephew, we’ll get there real soon!

    James Gillard & Suzanna Barnes-Gillard

    1. I did provide sufficient warning. You were under no obligation to listen!
      But. This is not about me. It’s about Daily Review and any publication that attempts to democratically fill the gap in writing once provided by elite decisions made at newspapers.
      Do you like what Daily Review does generally? Forget me.
      If you do like it, donate.

  3. I went to sign up to your podcast on iTunes and was greeted by the newest hottest podcast called ‘Lady StartUP’ (the up was actually italicised which is in my view a bigger crime than capitalisation but I’m sure by now your gag reflex is as triggered as mine was).

    I have to say Daily Review is one of my favourite views – and I probably only read about 30% of the content. Okay maybe more. I’m not very good with numbers. And no matter how much I disagree with a piece (and that awful piece about straight cis white women can be drag queens was, I originally thought, a misdirection to Daily Life at Fairfax), I always learn something (ie straight cis white women in drag call themselves hyper-drag or hyper queens). Also I get you and Buckmeister and the occasional lovely correspondence from Raymond when I pick up a subbing issue (he also threw in a free DVD which was nice).

    I love the variety of the format and the variety of the contributors. I think its well *curated* and edited. And I’ll be chucking some money in the kitty on the express proviso that you don’t tone it down and that you continue to call people bell ends. Otherwise there will be feedback.

  4. Hey Razer, I’m gonna frame this. Just you mentioning my name is enough for this Greek boy to find the additional impetus to write. Like my mum said to me; “Darling if they’re bullying you or say something bad, they’re just jealous or your good looks and intelligence.” Greek mums eh!

    Love you

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