Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The light is brighter from the outside...

It's funny how people suddenly become so critical once they leave a particular branch of the industry isn't it?

Case in point - Marc Reeves, former editor of the Birmingham Post.

In his blog, he speaks about how newspapers (including those under his leadership) have singularly failed to make the most of the internet.

While his thoughts may be exactly right, I do have one question to ask:


It's all well and good moaning after the fact but let's be honest, an editor has at least some sway in his own newsroom, even when it comes to the digital offering?

Anyway, let's have a look at what he actually said, at least that way we can nod along and laugh...

"I spent the last 15 years of my newspaper career regularly attending industry conferences in which the threats and opportunities of the internet were endlessly discussed and analysed.

"Pretty much everything that has come to pass was predicted, but what did the big newspaper groups do? Very little that was right, it turns out."

Again, why didn't you, as the person attending these conferences (at no extra cost to your employer I presume) suggest doing anything differently? Or did you and were ignored?

Anyhoo, it continues...

"Saddled by a shareholder base that had grown used to the cash cow returns of a monopoly, the regional newspaper industry in particular was structurally incapable of adopting the entrepreneurial approach that is the only option available when almost every aspect of your business model is rendered obsolete."

Preach on, brother.

Advertising models, editorial models, everything should have changed. While it can be argued that certain elements of news content was, is, and always will be pretty much standard, something, anything, should have changed at some point.

Instead, we have the desperation of blogs, desperation and copycat websites called thisiswhateversomeoneelsehasalreadydonebetterthanus...

Marc makes some very good points very well, yet singularly fails to address what he would have done differently (it's worth noting he is now working for the thebusinessdesk, yawn).

Yet newspaper groups should listen to someone finally free from the shackles of managing directors who have no clue, advertising directors who continue to see online adverts as a 'bolt-on' for in-paper displays and the likes.

It is not easy to theorise that there are many, many other editors, still in office, who realise that they are effectively stewards of a sinking ship.

However, rather than sitting in another meeting talking about it and doing actually nothing, why doesn't some maverick actually try something different?

Why won't someone look to the future? And I mean actually look, not just babble on talking complete shit about how newspapers will be dead soon and we are all going to die, actually see how this could work?

No, they won't, because they have bonuses, pensions and shitty company cars to consider, as do many of us (not me, but you know, trying not to simply batter middle management here, oh fuck it, go on then...).

It's a shame that while these newspaper groups were enjoying the fruits of a booming market, they never actually utilised much of the talent that existed (and perhaps still does?) in the lower ranks.

No, they promoted a bunch of pricks instead, didn't they?

Sorry this has been a bit worthy-wank, I will be funny as soon as I can. Well, I'll try, you know what I mean...

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