Thursday, 18 February 2010

Newspapers compared to the Premier League...

Newspapers can be directly compared to Premier League football clubs.

There it is, I've said it. And while it may sound ridiculous, please permit me the time to argue my apparently-bullshit point...

Premier League clubs had their day. The first TV deal done with Sky was worth somewhere around £200m, which was unheard of at the time.

The deal then increased, to more than £1 billion.

Obviously, the clubs spent this new money lavishly, be it on ludicrous transfer fees, or the oft-slammed player wages.

Now compare that to newspapers. Many were the unchallenged media outlet of their time. In the early- to mid-eighties, newspapers seemed to have endless amounts of cash (simply listen to the whinging reporter or resident old person in your news room for tales of 'the old days' and how they had money and expenses thrown at them).

Then, the bubble starts to burst.

The financial slowdown has hit both industries hard. Football clubs, not in the Premier League but elsewhere, have gone into administration, with Premier League clubs soon to follow.

Newspapers too have closed, offices have shut, central 'hubs' created and printing presses sold off.

However, while we criticise the football clubs for the way they are run, surely it is only a matter of scale?

Take a look at the stories regarding West Ham recently. Their new owners came out in the press, berating previous incumbents for employing doctors at £200,000 a pop, players on mad money and giving everyone at the club a mobile phone. They didn't even know what some people did, they claimed, while pledging to make sweeping changes.

Now look around your newsroom. I bet there are people there that seem to do nothing. Nothing.

I bet there are part-time reporters, more-often feature writers, who come in for two or three days a week, churn out a couple of press releases and go home.

Alas, perhaps the biggest source of your not-doing-anything-but-being-paid-a-lot ligger, is in middle management.

Cuts have taken their toll on this much-maligned worker, however, we are still deluged with managing editors / content editors / assistant editors / editors-in-chief etc.

Yet where have the biggest losses come? Reporting staff, no question.

So why are we so bemused at the collapse of newspapers?

Football clubs are disappearing nowhere near as quickly as newspapers. Why? Because they aren't making their players redundant, they are losing those not-needed doctors, managers and mind-helpers...

Players are the club's assets, as are reporters. Good ones.

So, a piece of advice for newspaper groups; don't immediately cut reporters, or see them as cannon fodder.

Instead, walk up to everyone in your office and ask a simple question: "What are you doing today? In fact, right now?"

Anyone who gives you a blank look, or says they are catching up on things, should be given a notice immediately.

Also, anyone with a title with the main factor being "special products" or "special projects", yep, get in the dole queue too my son.

Get rid of these people, usually paid double that of a decent trainee, reinvest some of it in staff, some to prop up the profits and you're laughing.

The point is, I believe newspapers DO have the resources to provide really good coverage - just as good as in 'the old days' - only they choose to distribute these resources in completely the wrong ways.

Probably because those who would make this decision would lose their own job...

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