Why We Will Miss The Observer

I’ve just had my final article published in The Observer, and this is it.

The Guardian and Observer combined are losing £100,000 a day so have cut their use of freelances like myself. The Observer is also sharply reducing the space it gives to personal finance and property from next Sunday.

There will be fewer property stories in future and they will be covered by staff writers – typically very good but not dedicated property specialists, so inevitably with fewer contacts and without a reservoir of knowledge on the subject.

The decision by The Observer is sad, not just for journos but for those caring about property coverage in the national press. Many other papers cover property in either a ‘price crash’ way, concentrating on bad news, or as a ‘lifestyle’, looking open-mouthed and uncritically at multi-million pound homes in London.

The Observer took a more wholistic approach. It reported on the market rising and falling but also looked behind the scenes, like this story about Inside Track, these disillusioned buyers in Spain, or this one on a lettings scam hitting students.

These are stories unlikely to be covered elsewhere, or at least in the same way, in the national press.

Many in the property industry like the ‘fluffy’ property pieces which some papers offer, concentrating on wealthy homes in Surrey or the Caribbean – and there is a place for this kind of writing. But what we need is more coverage like that which used to be in the Observer to give a real choice to the public and a more rounded view of property.

Sadly, that isn’t going to happen.

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