Sunday, August 24, 2008

Roger Alton: Newspapers Not Dead Yet

I've just been MSNed by a friend who is in foreign parts. He says this blog has been namechecked by the Independent editor Roger Alton in the BBC Hardtalk programme. Being curious I just watched it online (HERE). The programme's thesis is that newspapers are finished and Alton was there to put the counterpoint. In his first answer he cites the fact that David Miliband wrote an article for the Guardian rather than place it on my blog or LabourHome as proof that newspapers are alive and well.

What a peculiar defence. If that's the best line of defence he can think of, maybe newspapers are in more trouble than I had thought.


Ted Foan said...

Alton was very unconvincing in his defence of the world-wide fall in newspaper sales but did point out this phenomemon has not yet hit the UK. (I have to confess that I still like the feel and smell of a hard copy newspaper even though I will have already read the main headlines and comment sections online. There are always lots of other bits and pieces that fill up my frequent tea breaks!)

He came across as a pretty dodgy sort of character to me - pretending he did not have any input to the editorial line of his paper. Yeah!

Anonymous said...

News organisations might have a future, but not on paper. There's a bizarre ad running at the top of the Times website at the moment, urging you to subscribe to the Times and enjoy their writers for 20 per cent less.

Why should I? I can read it for free wherever I have access to the internet, which is at home, in my office, out and about with my laptop through wifi etc. And in a few years, it'll be universal.

And the ad is running on the Times website, which I'm reading for free. They're telling me how to get a cheaper Times on a free Times website...sorry, it just boggles my mind.

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

I've just watched Andrew Marr's "Britain From Above".

A mainstream programme that allows Marr's left-of-centre views to be "slipped in" without anyone (at the BBC noticing).

What I found most annoying was Marr at the Celtic/Rangers game, going "on the ground" but actually hiding being Police lines, no doubt because footage of him with football fans (on both sides) would have involved them giving him a piece of their minds.

When he went to Glastonbury however, Marr became a "man of the people", walking amongst some spaced out hippies, one of whom was shown giving him a spaced out hug (another ego trip for the "shy" Marr)

What a coward.

This was the man who, in the early days of NU Lab, was so far up Tony Blair's Arse you could only see his Big Toes.

Why do we put up with this (entertaining) Crap.

By the way if Marr is watching, Glastonbury does not represent a modern day "mini Britain" because there are NO muslims there.

Glastonbury is, in fact, the last vestiges of Britain's mono-culture, in all its glory. (So f off you c)

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Or maybe David Millipede is just like any other Blairite minister, completely useless at anything technology-related.

Anonymous said...

Splashitallover, cant you see? This is a warning that the Times website will be closing off its columns to all but fee paying subscribers.

That's what's happened to the Wall Street Journal. Patronage of news sites is what will happen in the future - and If I was forced to subscribed, I think I'd want the print newspaper itself as well. Not everyone likes looking at screens all day.

Anonymous said...

I read the Telegraph and the Times online every day. No need for me to a paper copy to read the minor trivial nonsense - but I do actually buy them both too.

You can't beat the feel of finishing the crosswords on the papers themselves. Doing crosswords online just doesn't seem the same.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the UK broadsheets will necessarily go to subscription for online. Their online operations are only just profitable at the moment. If one went subscription, it would lose all its traffic to the others, and thus the online ad revenue.

More likely, they will continue to be free online (with more, and better-targeted adverts) but will cease massive print-runs of the loss-making paper versions.

The broadsheet newspaper in ten years' time will be like Vinyl records are today - available at a price for those who insist upon them, and as collectables, but not used for the mainstream consumer.

Anonymous said...

Actually the opposite has occured, traffic and circulation are up on the WSJ - Murdoch owned - since the subs.

Anonymous said...

of course Blogs cannot replace Newspapers. Blogwriters are not, usually, journalists, they rarely investigate a story, only occasionally interview people, they cannot even cover the range of stories a daily newspaper can. Instead they are invariably a collection of opinions, often a rant, almost always so partisan that anybody reading them would think that they are straight out of party headquarters. Blogs are just one means of communication, sometimes ok, often not, they tend to appeal to a certain demographic (nerds and political obsessives). I think the newspaper industry has other bigger threats than the average blog.

Man in a Shed said...

Isn't it David Milioband who's in trouble ? ;-)

Tapestry said...

Politicians and journalists all read the blogs. They are instant reactions to events unlike news papers which are next day - more considered reaction, but also more controlled.

The truth rarely appears in public, so people search for it elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Does your blog report the news? I don't think so.

Tapestry said...

my blog (do you mean?)? No.

It gives my reaction to the news which is different to what I read and hear in the MSM. It's what I want to write.

The news is the minimal report that can be given out which doesn't offend any of the people who have the power to control the media.

That would include the media owners, the government, the government's friends, the EU, lawyers waving writs and no doubt the prejudices of the presenters and copy-writers.

Such an imperfect system needs competition, from people with different prejudices and viewpoints. The readers can decide which versions they prefer or believe.

The blogs provide. For serious analysis to a higher standard than can be found in any of the MSM, I recommend Eureferendum.

Anonymous said...

No, not dead yet, Iain, but there will be contractions and the way things are done will change. The fissure between writing and production will be forced shut and people in production jobs will do far more multi media and digital stuff. There will also be fewer of them (me), since, clearly, original journalism is the thing that will give media organisations the edge.

The regional press already looks as if it is going the way of the US, with, in the Midlands for example, whole staffs being made redundant and told to reapply for fewer jobs.

For the nationals, the way forward isn't clear yet - but don't bet on The Telegraph model of appearing to stake everything on a digital futue.

Anyone who really thinks papers are finished should consider why the Murdoch titles have just invested in new print works, at Broxbourne and EuroCentral in Scotland. There's money to be made from papers and printing them for the simple reason that people like to have "hard copy" in front of them - it's a very different read from online. I expect we'll be having this discussion still in 15 or 20 years.

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting point though. Have there been instances (this is a genuine Q, not a rhetorical one) of leading politicians penning a 'think piece' for a blog, rather than a newspaper?

I guess my defence of newspapers would be that you cannot easily read a blog on the Tube and there is a particular joy to be had in sitting in an armchair with a broadsheet.

Tapestry said...

hard copy vs online

As a middle aged male with worsening eyesight, I much prefer reading backlit online text with clearer letters, to hard copy which I have to hold myself, and keep towards the light.

It is also easier to read in internet format than in newspaper columns, and faster to scan a piece using arrow keys....and quicker to find the topics you want online than turning over pages.

Printed media is for people stuck on trains - or who like reading advertisements.

Murdoch might be investing in new printworks just to drive costs down - not to expand output of newspapers.

Maybe he will sell spare capacity to other users of print.

The MSM are in trouble. Their audience is deserting, and like churches wondering how to win back their congregations, there is little they can do, as the internet advances and gives people what they are searching for cheaper, quicker and better.

Iain Dale said...

Stuart, John Prescott has done a couple of pieces for Labour Home in the last few weeks. Loads of Tory politicians write for ConHome

But he misses the point of most blogs. They are not news services.

Anonymous said...

While the papers continue to be various politicians mouth pieces they wont have my coin.Reporting the news without spin and investigating Government and Opposition without bias then I will pay till then forget it.

Anonymous said...

Paper-based newspapers will end in the next 20 years, but news will not be free.

Ad revenue from the news websites in the UK isn't a fraction of their print/ad sales profit, and never will be.

Do you think journalists will work free? Get real, subcription-based services will soar.

There will be no such thing as free, good quality, news.

All of these 'free'gans are in for a shock.