Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Praise of the British Journalism Review

One of the publications I subscribe to is the British Journalism Review. It comes out quarterly and contains consistently excellent pieces about what's going on in the media today. Flicking through the latest issue I read two articles which I thought worth drawing to your attention.

The first is by Oliver Marre, who used to write the Pendennis column for The Observer. He charts the demise of the newspaper diary column and the fact that such columns have always been expensive and nowadays, partly because of internet competition, are harder and harder for newspapers to justify.



In part, the disappearance of gossip columns is simply as a result of the
change in economic circumstances across newspapers. Diaries aren't cheap... But
that's not the whole story, because the decline in newspaper revenue needs to be
seen against the backdrop of a changing social landscape. What was good for
chronicling the boom years does not seem so right when it comes to charting the
bust. What interested readers when times were good runs the risk of now seeming
irrelevant... Generally speaking, corks are being kept firmly on the champagne
bottles across the land so there is less for diaries to cover... the publishing
industry speaks openly of cutting back on book launch parties... That is not to
say that the readers' appetite for gossip has vanished overnight. [But] they
have to find homes elsewhere. The good ones are the easiest to rehouse. Decent
diary tales could always have claimed a place on the news pages and now, more
than ever, the lines between gossip and news are blurred. Somwhat you are
left with for the gossip column is some wry political reflection, a spot of
hypocrisy illuminated, and some funny quotes. At which point, inevitably, enter
the internet. Gossip websites with no lead times, are beating diarists to
breaking stories. Wheareas five years ago we shamelessly quoted blogs, because
other than a few pointy-headed enthusiasts nobody read them, these days bloggers
are the competition.


The full text of Oliver's article is HERE. And the second excellent article was by the BBC's Torin Douglas who writes about his job as BBC media correspondent. He's particularly good on how he has to report dispassionately about his own organisation when the brown stuff hits the fan. There are also excellent article on the decline of Sunday broadsheets and an obituary on local papers by Matthew Engel.

Sadly these articles are not online. But if you have £36 to spare, you could do worse than buy a subscription HERE.

10 comments:

Michaela said...

No free access, no comment

Anonymous said...

£9 per issue for hacks writing about themselves - I can imagine loads of people signing up for that.

Thomas Rossetti said...

"Wheareas five years ago we shamelesslu quoted blogs..."

Is that your mistake, Iain, or his?

Apart from the journalists themselves, is there anyone out there who will seriously miss the Dead Tree Press (as Guido calls it) when it's gone? As that fine upstanding individual* John Prescott points out, it's very difficult for journalists to get away with lying about things these days.

The wikipedia entries about key football matches are much quicker and more informative than anything the newspapers can come up with, and if you want to know what's happening right now in the world Twitter Search is the speediest way.

Time to shamelessly promote my own twitter page now:

http://twitter.com/thomasrossetti* Pointing out that this is a joke removes any humour that might have been in it, but unless I do so people might think I'm serious. Prescott is a fool and a national embarrassment... but he's right about the internet.

Thomas Rossetti said...

"Wheareas five years ago we shamelesslu quoted blogs..."

Is that your mistake, Iain, or his?

Apart from the journalists themselves, is there anyone out there who will seriously miss the Dead Tree Press (as Guido calls it) when it's gone? As that fine upstanding individual* John Prescott points out, it's very difficult for journalists to get away with lying about things these days.

The wikipedia entries about key football matches are much quicker and more informative than anything the newspapers can come up with, and if you want to know what's happening right now in the world Twitter Search is the speediest way.

Time to shamelessly promote my own twitter page now:

http://twitter.com/thomasrossetti* Pointing out that this is a joke removes any humour that might have been in it, but unless I do so people might think I'm serious. Prescott is a fool and a national embarrassment... but he's right about the internet.

Thomas Rossetti said...

Just one other thing:

Amidst this debate about bloggers vs. professional journalists, the latter have always maintained that they are extremely necessary in holding governments to account. Surely anyone with half a brain can see that this isn't true.

As was proved by "Dan Rather-gate" (a 60 Minutes report which suggested George W. Bush had gone AWOL while he was supposed to be in the Texas National Guard) groups of committed, amateur bloggers are much better at uncovering the truth than lone professionals.

When it comes to browsers Firefox and Chrome, free services, are much better than Internet Explorer, for which you have to pay.

Without sucking up to this blog's editor, even a man that obviously knows little about radio can produce a very entertaining programme.

The lunatics are taking over the asylum (and the asylum will be all the better for it).

http://twitter.com/thomasrossetti

I Squiggle said...

£36 when you helpfully give us the interesting morsels, for free, here? No thanks..

Philipa said...

The sundays, especially the MoS, is increasingly full of rubbish that is of little interest outside Islington and Chelsea. The red-tops cater for those who cannot bear to miss an episode of their favourite soap. So for women we either have the details of Jordans marriage and Susan Boyles new faux leather jacket (uninteresting) or some teenage stick insect wearing a T shirt that cost a months mortgage, and lettuce and lentils on a plate 'drizzled' with olive oil and that's a recipe (I call it chucking what you fancy on a plate).

There is no journo equivalent of Doris Day. There's no column of genuinly interesting variety for women.

You get female journos who preach or bemoan for women when they wouldn't know how most of us live without a nanny, a crateload of chardonnay and a laptop.

What is there for intelligent women who are not rich?

Well along with the men here I read Iain Dales Diary.

Oliver Marre said...

"Shamelessly" is Iain's typo (perhaps not "mistake").

Iain, I'm pleased you thought it worth flagging this piece up, though I really would direct people to the full article because this precis doesn't - unsurprisingly, and this is not a complaint - give the full story.

Iain Dale said...

Oliver, but it is not online.

Oliver Marre said...

Iain...it is: http://www.bjr.org.uk/blog/2009/06/01/hot-gossip-goes-cold/