Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Cash cow? How?

I seem to have seen it on every news page and read it on every news website more than 1,000,000 times in the past six months.

Open a newspaper now and look, yep, there it is.

I'm talking about the web plug. And I don't mean a box reading "Tell us what you think at", I mean something different, a new kind of space wasting...

"Follow us on Twitter"

"Find us on Facebook"

It's these bastards I'm talking about.

Now, I can understand a plug to the site from a newspaper - although on every story on every page is, frankly, ridiculous - but to flag up twitter and facebook accounts seems a complete and utter waste of time to me.

While I'm sure it's great for anyone who knows nothing about anything (they seem to feature more and more prominently in newsrooms don't they?) to say "ooh, Mr Charlie Big Bollocks, we now have 14,000,000,000 followers on twitter".

And I'm sure fellow know-nothing, who drives a company BMW, will respond about how great that news is.

But why?

Why is it great that someone is (probably) costing the much under-funded editorial budget far too much money to put stories on twitter, or facebook?

Yes, each may garner a few dozen more links for a story, but really, do we need someone giving serious time to this pursuit, which I can only assume is a case of vanity on behalf of each site, or newspaper?

Now, it would be different if someone had told me how much money they were making from such endeavours, but we all know that the grand total of income generated from having an infinite amount of friends on facebook is... Zero.

And twitter? Yep, zero.

Let's be honest, in reality, facebook and twitter don't really know how to make money from themselves, so why the hell would the ever backward-thinking newspaper industry suddenly be any different?

And please, someone tell me why we are taking up far too much space which could, ultimately, be used for exactly what people DO pay for - news.

I'm sure someone, someday, will come up with the framework for us all to make off these things (just as we were told they would with the internet 10 years ago, but how you doing on that one?) but until they do, why are we wasting time and resources on such folly?

I ask you.

Yet again, as I so often whinge on about, it is the misinformed and clueless managers employed at newspapers who will trumpet these things, as a smokescreen for their own failure.

You watch those middle managers hark on about success on facebook. They will lap it up, because equally-clueless senior management (who are too old to know what a laptop is, let alone anything else) will believe every bloody word they say and issue a directive that all reporters should immediately be tweeting their stories from the field before getting copy to newsdesks...

Honestly, it makes me want to turn into Adam Boulton.

By the way, I'm sure you can follow this on twitter, or facebook, or something... But you may want to just come back and read it next time?

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