WITH time being called on the Liverpool Post I thought I’d revive a blog entry from a couple of years back where I questioned whether the traditional media had had its day.
Back then dailies were becoming weeklies, the introduction of central subbing operations saw employees having to travel many miles to work or face redundancy; and there was plenty of general consolidation and downsizing. All of this is still going on.
SALES of regional newspapers are down while web traffic is on the up. But what does this really mean?
Since the day the internet started to take hold in the very-late 1990’s the traditional media has struggled to come to terms with it, often viewing it as a threat and seemingly burying their collective heads in the sand.
To be fair though newspaper sales have been declining for decades as a result of our changing aspirations, our move away from an industrial society and our increasing reliance on the car.
The print media is now what the older generation reads, we no longer get the bus to and from the factory where we work so we don’t walk past the corner shop and automatically buy a paper, and no-one wants to stop the car to pop into the newsagent.
Anyway we’ve already heard or seen the news; it’s everywhere thanks to 24-hour news on the TV, radio bulletins from the almost 400 stations, rolling news on the big screens in shopping malls, railway stations, airports. And the world wide web on our smartphones giving us news via our browsers and via Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
The print media is trying to adapt itself to be read on tablet computers, but have the publishers been too slow to react? Web-only media is on the rise; there’s plenty of music “magazines” out there such as Pitchfork and The Mouth; corporate titles like the Business Desk and general ones such as the Huffington Post, the Yorkshire Times and Sabotage Times.
Is the traditional media doomed? Looks like it could be especially when you consider that many are housed in old inefficient buildings that are far too big for them because they’ve got rid of so many staff in recent years; and printing presses and distribution trucks don’t come cheap.
We don’t necessarily need the press but we need journalists, trained journalists that are capable of investigating and uncovering the truth be that on a local level or on a national scale.
Some seem to think that citizen journalism will take over. That’ll be the people who think that gossip is journalism – ooh, hang on don’t we have Closer, Heat and Okay for that?
And have you noticed how over the past 15 years or so newspapers have become thinner? That’s because job ads went online, then property which meant less revenue and fewer pages which meant that not as much news could be published and, therefore, you don’t need as many reporters.
And fewer pages means a less attractive proposition for the reader so circulation drops which means advertisers don’t want to advertise, or if they do it’s at a reduced fee.
And in the newsroom reporters have become increasingly rooted to their desks relying on feeds from the emergency services at the expense of getting out into the patch to dig out news.
Even the former Newspaper Society president Chris Oakley agrees with me having stated last month that the major regional newspaper groups are engaged in “a stampede to irrelevance”, leaving readers less well informed about what they need, want and ought to know.
He even added that “PR no more fills the need for journalism you can trust than community correspondents”. So what does this mean for PR? It means that you should become your own publisher by leveraging the very best from social media and online marketing.
Just because newspapers have been around for the past 400 years doesn’t mean they should be with us forever; all empires have to come to an end.