July 20, 2009
And here’s a contemporary version of the same battle…in one corner, an ageing megolithic rambling beast, too large and slow to sustain itself and adapt…in the other corner, a nippy, lightning-fast contender with super-quick reactions…newspapers vs. online.
I had an excellent meeting with Dave King, Editor of regional daily newspaper Swindon Advertiser recently, and amongst the topics of conversation, new media and the challenges facing traditional newsrooms came up. He surprised me – positively.
With a team of seven journalists, covering a huge patch, and working in probably one of the most competitive, budget-reduced areas of British journalism, King is pushing ahead through online boundaries. There are a host of regional bloggers contributing to the site, local news is mixing comfortably with solid online advertising, and the site could exist in its own right separate to the daily newspaper from which it sprang. Encouraging indeed.
Also encouraging was to see a traditional daily newspaper editor actually embracing contemporary challenges, and given the environment which Newsquest finds itself at the moment in the UK, King’s approach is nothing short of courageous. Bravo.
The conversation included talk of increasing the mix, adding value to the online offering, and of strengthening the remit of online and offline news – such as distributing certain exclusives online, and others offline, to protect circulation. Smart cookie.
Maybe we’ve all gotten so used to negative news around our media delivery, we’re not aware of the positive work being carried out there in the regions by budget-pressed journos. Maybe they aren’t shouting their successes loudly enough. Maybe a bit of both.
July 15, 2009
One of the main USPs of newly-launched London-based www.theblogpaper.co.uk aims to be allowing readers to vote for the content to be used. Giving the readership control of the content online, and letting bloggers integrate directly with the news stream.
Interesting. Truly exciting and coming from a UK publisher, too. Despite the reliance on advertising as a revenue stream, the site aims to offer an alternative view on the selection and dissemination of news. Moving away from traditional editorship.
As a balanced, objective editor, I can see the pros and cons here: it’s a fascinating proposition. You decide on its merits.
July 13, 2009
In light of this today, it seems clear where the winners are residing in Medialand.
Interesting to see the top tech firms riding high in the Guardian Media 100 for this year, but given the economic state underlying commerce, no real surprises. The power of the internet and content combined continues to dominate firms in our space.
However, it’s likely that we’ll see further cutbacks, job losses, business closures and related dropouts in coming weeks, as traditional media firms, PR agencies, old-school publishers, Dickensian newspaper managers and the like refuse flatly to embrace change and integrate online into everything they do.
And the result? More journos knocking on the doors of local councils for press office jobs, or maybe considering for the first time to leave newsrooms and enter the Dark Art of PR in agency-land. My money would be with the digital marketing agencies: at least as a content creator with NCTJ credentials, there is some hope following the harsh reality of redundancy.
It’s a thankless task, trust me: I’ve been there, and seen many a Hack suffer a slow and painful professional death at the hands of a commercially-bereft, cold-hearted account director in the past. Of course, there are some good ones out there too!
So, what’s the message from the Guardian Media team this year? Pretty simple. Embrace the digital age or die.