Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Future of Newspapers

A good friend of mine Colin Gilchrist wrote an interesting article on the future of newspapers. Now some of you might know that I spent a number of years in the newspaper industry so here are my thoughts on Colin's comments and some of my own.
I agree that the BBC does seem to have the monopoly on international news and how we read and digest it but I also think that most of the newspapers have had it good for so long and their reaction to change so slow that they are genuinely not sure on the course of action to take to combat this. The newspaper industry is centuries old where the Internet, in comparison, is a mere baby so getting to grips with this is a little daunting for them.
Take into consideration the current 'file sharing' issue and the fact that over 60% of the younger audience think they shouldn't have to pay for anything online, other than through Amazon and eBay etc. File sharing is becoming the norm and free information is also the norm so getting people to pay for it other than buying the printed edition is going to be difficult. Mr Murdoch can squeal all he likes but I doubt it will change in the near future.

Lets face it the array of sites that give away free information is growing by the day.

So what do the newspapers do? Well two routes they can take immediately are, hyper local just concentrating on their local area and become all things local or they can reverse publish, which means only publish the newspaper when its subscribed to, making the print runs shorter and cheaper.

Advertisers are also becoming more Internet savvy when it comes to their advertising and with the advent of social marketing again the routes to market are growing. I don't think it helps when newspaper companies, and they are all the same just follow the link from Colin's blog to the new Glasgow Herald website and notice the crappy blurry newspapers in the ad column in comparison to the national ads and you will see what they are up against. If the newspapers and advertising agencies do not realise that sub standard doesn't work the more chance they have of attracting advertisers.
The website that gets it right every time is The Guardian.

It's a good point that Colin makes in that the BBC have advertising throughout their sites other than in the UK and we do fund it through our licence fee so is it time to change for the BBC, should it be more like a news or newspaper site and have to fund it through advertising like they do? I for one think it should and the sooner the better but I am not sure if it will ever happen and in there lies the imbalance and injustice.

For what its worth I am of the old school and I like to read my local paper to find out whats going in my area on but for the national stuff its the BBC or The Guardian and I can't see that changing if I am honest.


  1. It would appear we are not the only ones that have concerns about the BBC's impact on news coverage:

  2. The unique way the BBC is funded is something that should be cherished by the British public. Without that funding, the impartial eye that the BBC is currently able maintain would be gone. Without that vital funding you would have news gathering and reporting, programming of fox news and channel five combined. As Colin rightly pointed out, "don't compete play in a different park", and be comfortable that one of the biggest players you have in online news reporting broadcasts a view point unbiased by advertisers or sponsors, they are after all helping to educate our children and future leaders.

  3. Some good points there but it still doesn't get away from the fact that paying for news will be an up hill battle for the big groups and the smaller ones will find it even more difficult, but then again we love battles!