Observer Closure Just The Start

4 08 2009

We should have seen the writing on the wall when the fish and chip shops started to close and more still when they abandoned yesterday’s paper in favour of plain wrapping.   Yesterday the Guardian Media Group (GMG) admitted that it might close The Observer in an attempt to reduce debts, which are approaching £90 million.

The review of the Guardian’s products is being by led by editor in chief Alan Rusbridger with a decison planned to be taken by the autumn.  It is difficult to see how the paper can continue when much of the editorial team has already been integrated with the Guardian and management have already intimated that it may go.

The existence of Trusts (GMG is owned by the Scott Trust) and proprietors that are prepared to shore up losses mean that a rationalisation of the UKs national newspapers is well overdue.  We have seen the process start with pressure on regional titles and with the big circulation city titles in the States.   I always believed that the Sunday People would be the first to go and that no-one would really notice.  Whilst we have seen short lived nationals like Today and The European close The Observer has been around since 1791 and its demise would be unprecedented.  It looks now like it may be the first major national newspaper to close.  It won’t be the last.





Archbishop Pontificates On Social Networks

3 08 2009

Is the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales using his opposition to social networks as a way of building his own profile?  Archbishop Vincent Nichols has argued that MySpace and Facebook are the basis of “transient” friendships and can be a factor in suicide among young people as a result of relationships which have collapsed.  The truth is that young people are vulnerable to relationship issues wherever and however they occur.  

If the Archbishop, who was enthroned just two months ago as successor to the high profile Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wanted headlines he got them.  He wouldn’t be the first Catholic cleric to capture column inches via Facebook.  Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples who openly takes a very different stance on social networks opened a Facebook site in November and within a few weeks gained  5,000 ‘friends’.  

A more useful contribution from the cloth came from Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney who on the BBC Radio Today programme this morning, described social networks as “thin communities” which allow for freedom and social diversity where young people can “keep friendships alive”.  

I think the important issue here is the relevance and importance of the expertise.  When it comes to understanding new technologies and emerging communications channels we simply shouldn’t be turning to religious (or political) leaders for advice.








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