London Standard is Sorry, Whilst Boston Globe is on the Brink

6 05 2009

The London Evening Standard is saying sorry to Londoners for being negative, losing touch and taking them for granted.

The apology is part of an advertising campaign launched in response to market research, commissioned by the newspaper’s new editor, Geordie Greig. The research found that the paper was seen as negative and didn’t fit with the needs of Londoners.  With a new editor and a new owner it is unsurprising that the newspaper wants to grab some media limelight.  It may even be sincere but it is missing the point.  We consumers don’t mind a bit of negativity – Charlie Brooker’s huge fan base is a testament to that. 

The part of the research that is important is the fact that the paper no longer meets the need of the people and the city.  More particularly many of these needs are being met elsewhere.  Why look up the restaurant pages when Urbanspoon on your iPod will provide location based prices and reviews for restaurants close to where you are standing.

Boston is a city of 4.5 million people.  Its biggest paper the Boston Globe has been teetering on the brink of collapse this week.  In the early hours of this morning the New York Times company which owns the Globe reached tentative a deal with the Globe’s largest union, the Guild.  The company had demanded savings of  $10 million a year, and the end of employment guarantees for Guild members.

Whether the Globe will live to fight another day is uncertain.  What is for sure is that regional and city newspapers around the world are in decline.  Saying sorry might not be enough.





Guardian’s Rusbridger on Twitter

20 03 2009

Alan Rusbridger the Editor of the Guardian has started to twitter.  Along the the Telegraph’s William Lewis he is blazing the trail for major newspaper editors in using the microblogging social network*. It should be of little surprise that he is leading the way.  Many of  his colleagues at the paper are avid users and the Guardian itself is redefining media concepts.  The Guardian is no longer just a newspaper. It is a trusted media brand that delivers audio, video, web content as well as a daily, dead wood and ink edition.

When the Guardian re-launched itself in the smaller Berliner format in 2005,  Rusbridger said that the Guardian website was cannibalising newspaper readership and that this was a factor in the prior fall in the paper’s circulation.  He also said something else that provided a fascinating insight into the future of national daily newspapers.  The new format required the purchase of new printers at some considerable cost; £62 million, £12 million more than the paper had budgeted.  Rusbridger apparently said that he thought they would be the last printers that the paper bought.  

This blog is a companion to the book ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ available now from Amazon which examines the changing media landscape and its continuing evolution.  

 * Amended after Mick Fealty’s comment  correcting the original assertion.





Are Bloggers Journalists?

22 01 2009

If blogging is citizen journalism then bloggers are citizen journalists, which by definition is a form of journalism.  Blogger relations might then have much in common with media relations.

I argued this case or something much akin to it in a lecture I gave for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in May 2008 at Leeds Metropolitan University.  

I had pursued this argument before with little opposition but when the Q&A section came round my argument hit a wall.  Richard Bailey, an academic blogger and university lecturer at Leeds took me to task on this view and Chris Norton Account Director at Wolfstar supported his assertion that blogger relations and media relations are very different. 

The two points of view can be broadly summarised thus:

The case for the prosecution

  • Bloggers don’t like and seldom use press releases
  • Bloggers are generally of independent mind and blog because they want to express their own views and opinions and not those of others
  • Blogs are not edited in the traditional sense and therefore can not be considered to be media in the conventional sense
  • Many blogs simply don’t have an audience
  • We have to engage with bloggers in a different way involving more dialogue and discussion

The case for the defense

  • Journalists don’t much like press releases either and never did.
  • I’ve met some pretty independent minded journalists in my time.  If in doubt read Nick Davies’s excellent ‘Flat Earth News’.  He’s man of independent mind (although he describes others that are not). 
  • The difference between blogs and ‘traditional media’ on line is becoming blurred.  The process of editing creates authority but it does not mean that blogs can’t be authoritative.  

I modified my view after listening to both Richard and Chris but I do believe there is a significant amount of common ground in how we approach the most influential bloggers and how we have deal with journalists who fit the more traditional mould.  I imagine however that the debate will run and run.





The Press Under Pressure

30 11 2008

 

Newspapers are in the process of re-inventing themselves as news brands.  In the future they will have to provide news across a variety of platforms, as many already do using podcasts and video as well as on-line editions.  

In 2005, the editor of the Guardian Alan Rusbridger provided an insight into the future of national daily newspapers. Launching a new format for the paper the organisation had purchased new printers – Rusbridger said that he believed they would be the last printers that the paper bought.  This suggests a future for the Guardian and others that will not involve paper at all. 

Falling circulation figures for national newspapers in the UK will mean that some will close others perhaps will merge.  Either way in five years time or maybe sooner we will have fewer national daily newspapers than we do now. 

The news brands may continue but their existence will be a digital one. The 100 year old publication The Christian Science Monitor announced in October that they will move from a print edition to daily and weekly email editions as well as an enhanced weekly digital publication.   

The decline in print newspapers is bound to accelerate.








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