Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Conference bullshit. As usual.

Oh, how I love conferences where top bods at regional, national, shit, good, middling newspapers get to shout their opinions from a stage.

The best thing about them is that many of them serve only to show what a complete bunch of fools those overseeing our industry are.

I realise I am turning in to a complete whinger these days, but let's be honest, the fodder is too obvious to overlook.

Case in point: Society of Editors conference in Glasgow.

Editors and execs from up and down the country have thrown expenses caution to the wind (leaving behind reporters whose claims are thrown out if they submit them a bit late) for a few nights in a plush hotel to catch up with old mates over far too much food and drink.

Oh, and they might talk about newspapers a bit too.

The subject the other day was, as it inevitably is for at least one session at these things, the interweb.

And we saw the full scale of the problem encapsulated in one opinion, voiced by the revered editor of the Press & Journal, Aberdeen, Derek Tucker.

Revered, from what I can gather, for running a paper that managed to lose 3.4% of circulation in the January ABCs.

Right, anyway, his quotes included this glorious nugget...

"We have not sold our souls on creating an all-singing, all-dancing website. We have always adopted a stricter attitude to the industry norm."


It was also reported that not all Press & Journal stories are uploaded to the web and that none, repeat NONE, were uploaded before they appeared in the paper.

I'm sure countless editors and MDs up and down the land were gasping at this revelation.

"Derek Tucker doesn't upload everything? And nothing before it's been in the paper? Why, we must adopt this revolutionary process immediately!"

What a fool.

I don't care how revered he is, or by how much less his circulation has fallen than anyone else, he is talking utter tosh.

How can he quantify, for example, the amount of newspaper sales he may have gained by promoting things from the internet? Or by breaking news on the internet, even if it is in a scaled-down story or feature, flagging content in the printed product?

Content is free Derek, end of.

As an internet sceptic myself, I used to follow your way of thinking, but I soon came round when I witnessed the positive effects the internet can have on stories later published, be it comments from online, submitted pictures, whatever, it made the papers better.

You may have so far escaped this new-fangled interweb rubbish and flaunted a meagre 3.4% loss in front of some hapless MD, but your time is over.

Needless to say, he is stepping down in the new year after 18 years in the chair.

Let's just hope that ill-informed comments such as these do not have a lasting effect on the industry he clearly loves.

Because if his policy is continued, newspapers - and their websites - will be dead in 30 years. Completely.

And while that may be fine for those retiring in January, what about the rest of us?

Twitter update to follow - and mentions for my eight followers as promised!

Follow me now for a mention: @haplesshack

I'm also going to have a look at the Daily Mail's website today in light of a very interesting article...

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