It’s interesting to look at all the doom-and-gloom predictions for the traditional British print media.
Political Betting has an interesting post featuring the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ figures for the major UK daily newspapers. If you follow the discussion in the comments below, there’s a very telling one by “My Burning Eyes”:
Lack of investigative journalism/high quality analysis? This is the thing the blogosphere can’t compete with the press on. The NYT sometimes runs top notch analysis that is the result of getting subject experts spending 2-3 months of data-mashing, something I’ve not seen much of in the British press. Big scoops still draw paper sales, but they’re rarer, and increasingly tackier. Gossip and leaks rather than in-depth investigation form most scoops, but they’re often just tittle-tattle.
So perhaps what people want from newspapers is quality, perhaps at the expense of frequency, rather than quantity?
I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of “quantity = quality”. It’s my unwritten mantra every time we start producing Le Nurb (the Brunel SU newspaper) because, like any other student newspaper, we’re always crying out for articles. Similarly, you can also see the appeal of putting something out every single day; it builds awareness of your product amongst your target audience. Yet perhaps media organisations are creating a ‘white noise’ effect by putting out so much content?
Twitter is a prime example of the white noise effect in action. Now, I can’t stand Twitter at all, nor do I particularly see the point of it beyond self-expression. Avid Twitterers claim that this is because I’m not cool enough or don’t understand its beauty or that I’m not following the right people. But no – I can’t stand it because there’s so much junk in there in amongst the rare gems, and (as far as I know) nobody’s yet developed a Twitter search engine that can tell the difference between “lol my dog just fell in a puddle” and “omg a bus just skidded into my front garden”.
If somebody took the time to go through a week’s worth of tweets and presented me with just the interesting ones, then perhaps I’d take the time to have a read. I think this is where the mainstream press falls down; in their need to fill column inches, they simply can’t afford to filter out the less interesting content.
And I think that this is where the future of quality journalism lies – as is amply demonstrated by The Week. My prediction is that, with leading journalists predicting that more localised journalism is the future, regional publications along the lines of The Week (perhaps fortnightly?) will be the salvation of the industry.