Sunday 19 July 2009

Terrorist Newspaper?

I spend a lot of time mulling the future of publishing and the future of media. I recently asked the following question on Facebook:

Could a newspaper be guilty of acts of terrorism for spreading fear to sell papers?

I had 3 replies, all great.

David N replied:
Good question Al. I think the media tends to position itself as a mirror, observer, mediator of an objective reality but, in truth, is probably the single most active agent in shaping that reality. So yes, imo, they can be responsible for all manner of unethical practice.

Karen K replied:
That's why I believe the happiest and least fearful people are those who don't read/watch news. IMO, if it's big enough or affects me in some way, I'll hear about it via word of mouth. Otherwise, I have my own news to make!

Steven B replied:
interesting having moved abroad recently my consumption of news has changed completely...I get it 100% web (twitter, fb, publicnow,digg, blogs, feeds) no tv or papers and I feel better off for it. used to work in tv so reading all papers daily each with their own agenda was normal. now i prefer as Karen says to make my own news and changes to my own world, everything important filters to me anyway...

I replied:
David is that an argument for the nationalisation of the media? Karen/Steve, very good points and I agree.

The timely updates and exclusive access/sources MSM (Mainstream Media) used to provide are becoming less relevant in a digital age of freely available ubiquitous information. However the value of confirmation and analysis are going up.

It would appear therefore that the media is evolving from being a source of timely information/news to being channels for reliability & analysis. With huge impact on the world as a result....

Curious to hear your thoughts...


  1. I wish I had your confidence that media is evolving into a source 'reliability & analysis', that is certainly what luddites in MSM have been hoping since digital started mainstreaming a decade ago but there's no evidence of this I think. It's entirely generational. I am a 70s child (and proud) and so grew up on the value in value added insight and analysis (must have been The Sunday Times my stepdad bought every weekend!), but the 'digital natives' see all sources as equal. So take for example the Obama ogles ass' story here I doubt most would have got past the analysis which showed the pictures totally mis-represented Obama and he was actually assisting a young lady. The playing field is entirely level and MSM are still waking up to that fact.

  2. Hey Steven, I think that luckily we live in a relatively market-led world and so inevitably many MSM brands will not get the point and will thus fade away. Some however will get the need to evolve (some already are?) and will evolve and emerge the other side. They will operate principally in a digital world providing mostly reliable analysis as the value of news itself is decreasing. It is still a problem to sift non MSM to find reliable news mostly but that is changing as WOM pushes accurate news round like the memes they are and creates a massive variety of mostly reliable news outlets over time. Newspapers will no doubt maintain the print channel, probably mostly for marketing purposes though. I certainly expect daily newspapers to become a thing of the past over the next decade (or two at most) as the ROI of the required and hugely expensive print operations slides into oblivion.

  3. Al, are you saying that you believe that we're moving beyond "Flat Earth News"?

    The Telegraphs article about a £250 parking tax in Nottingham was a classic example of irresponsible crap that's trashing our economy. There's no analysis or responsibility in that. It's just plain and simple capitalism - selling newspapers by only ever having the negative side fo the story.

    I think we have a real problem in this country in getting accurate information out into the debate, when we get stories like that. Where was the mention of "tax incidence", for example. I personally think that the mainstream papers are doomed, as their costs and revenues are going in opposite directions.

  4. Hi Neale

    I think digital will sort it out as access to the means of production democratises, a secular reformation if you like, where access to god is replaced by access to truth.

    Ironically, the power of editors is going up as the volume of news and sources to plough through increases.

    Any sign of junior by the way? Am guessing to Scooby...