Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Secret of Daily Mail's Success...

Sorry to harp on about the Daily Mail website - actually, scrap that, I'm not sorry at all - but it really is becoming such a beacon of excellence for both newspapers, news websites and newspaper executives who are stuck in the pit of trying to justify everything, to everyone, all the time, even though they have no fucking clue what they're actually talking about.

I give you Mail Online publisher Martin Clarke, and his recent address at the Society of Editors Conference.

He said: "Mail Online has succeeded because it does what newspapers have always done, it tells fascinating stories clearly with great headlines, punchy words and brilliant pictures."

Let's take this one step at a time...

"Mail Online has succeeded because...":

* "fascinating stories": Really? Where? A quick look today reveals 13, yes, 13 celebrity-based stories in the top half of the Mail homepage. There are nine 'news' stories in the main section.

* "great headlines": Again, really? Headlines today include: 'Rent boy quizzed by police over claims that husband of honeymoon murder victim paid him for sex sessions', 'Big freeze returns tonight with EIGHT inches of snow and temperatures of -10C on the way, prompting fears it will eclipse the winter of 1962-3' and 'He has an army of liberal millionaire supporters bit WikiLeaks boss is STILL trying to raise £240,000 in cash for his bail'.

Yeah, fuckin' fascinating those Martin...

* "punchy words": See above.

* "brilliant pictures": See below - I'll let you judge.

Now, to all those executives now knocking one off over Clarke's genius thinking and incredible figures on Mail Online, I give you the response.

* "Please, stop wallowing in a vat of your own clueless thinking and realise that whacking celebrity names in headlines, along with words like "rent boy" and "sex sessions" (preferably together) does not indicate some kind of genius online thinking, it indicates a blatant attempt to produce plastic figures based on wankers who know nothing about anything reading shit stories."

If that is the future, then you can stick it right up your arse and we should all quit now.

Thank you Mr Clarke for killing our industry. Still, you'll be long fucking dead with millions in the bank when the final person left trying to preserve some sort of integrity is handed a P45.

Still, at least he has some sense of how shit his own site is.

"I don't think we'll ever win any web design awards."

No shit Sherlock.

Monday, 13 December 2010

'Tis the season to be jolly...

Christmas is a tricky time for every department at a newspaper.

Sales are struggling to cut down supplies and deciding on which day to leave off their ABCs as sales are just so shit.

Editorial is stockpiling features like never before, while trying to maintain some semblance of actual news in a see of festive press releases.

And managers are, well, looking forward to the posh lunch/day off event they have planned despite giving every employee a £5 pot to piss in for their Christmas party...

Yet they shouldn't be the only ones reveling in the opportunities December presents.

Surely, for advertising departments up and down the land, Christmas is the time of joy, the time to make hay as it were, while the snow falls?

Every shop in the land should be queueing up to show off their wares in the pages of the local rag, giving away this that and the other and basically cosying up to newspapers all over the shop (I'm on fire for puns today).

However, it has to be embraced, and let's be honest, it's a bit of a God-send (can you see what I did there?) for stories in the week or so before the day itself, and for the week after. There are picture stories galore to be had, Christmas miracle births, Christmas Day births, swims, walks, etc etc.

So it was with interest that I took a little looksie round the usual band of high-flying news websites in a bid to see how each had harnessed the new season and was somewhat let down by my findings.

Various big hitters had nothing at all to do with Christmas online that I could find, including,, and to name but a few.

Others had a very small nod to the festive season, including the Lincolnshire Echo, which was flagging up a Santa's Letter scheme (prime advertising fodder I would imagine, as mentioned above) - a snip at £3.95!

The Reading Evening Post too seemed to have found a way of trying to eek out some cash, with a tie-up for Christmas shopping with an external retailer (see picture below).

Others had made a bit more of an effort, including Newsquest big hitters and, who put their stablemate the Argus to shame with full sections dedicated to everything snow- and Santa-based. A quick peek at the Bolton offering is below.

It would be interesting to know how much money their efforts made? Hopefully a lot.

Same with, which is running a Christmas lights competition, a natural home for such competitions what with page-starved books for most papers.

Anyway, the point of having a look really was just to harness whether anyone is actually trying to do anything differently in this sea of 'difficult financial times'.

My answer, as has been exposed so many times while writing this blog and working in a newsroom, is no in pretty much all cases.

I can only presume we're all too full of piss and wind (as well as mince pies and cheap Champagne) to actually try and do anything?

I sincerely hope those attempting to innovate and fight their way out of this paper bag of a recession succeed. Those who moan a lot but have tried nothing? Well, the papers will survive, hopefully without you...

NUJ action? You must be joking...

Now, the seemingly endless saga of strikes at Newsquest newspapers up and down the country is something I've mused on before.

However, previously, I targeted the sloppy coordination of the NUJ, which has singularly failed to galvanise the clearly strong voice for protest at many centres.

And I'm going to do exactly the same again.

I realise there is strict legislation in place which governs such moves, but surely the NUJ has some idea of how to go about coordinating a nationwide strike, as that clearly seems to be something Newsquest employees are craving?

It would seem that would be the only way to truly do something about the shoddy treatment of so many journalists by a company which makes "lots of money", apparently.

This is what you're there for NUJ, not your usual sprouting of bullshit rhetoric.