Thursday, 14 January 2010

Pay attention to the small print

A very interesting debate at Westminster took place yesterday regarding the rise of the council newspaper.
I agree that council newspapers are a very real threat to local papers and should be either banned or forced to actually run as a business on the budgets they claim to cost and see how long they survive.
But a more interesting question emerged during the debate. What are the management companies going to do to improve the newspapers they already own.
Many complaints were levelled at the lack of cover of local politics in their local paper and the demise of the High Street office, both evidence of cost cutting to increase profits to the big companies.
The best point was made by John Randall a Conservative MP from Uxbridge

In my borough of Hillingdon the demise of local papers has been going on for some time. .........One of the problems has been chronic lack of investment in local newspapers.

Large multinational or national companies have come along and diminished the number of journalists, and diminished their skills, to the point where the Gazette series, which is the one we have in the London borough of Hillingdon, has its offices in Chertsey, which to all intents and purposes is a million miles away.

The people one talks to - the reporters, of whom there are one or
two on the ground, operating with a laptop and a digital phone - tend not to understand the area, so people are not interested in what is in the newspaper.
Advertisers like me do not think it is worth while to advertise, so things go down the pan.

The local newspaper is a fundamental part of the whole. The internet will never replace it, because many people, including many of the more
vulnerable people, do not have the internet. The local newspaper is a very important thing, and we must do something, but it is no good just blaming one set of things.

Dear management, please wake up and realise the fundamental flaw with your business plans (if you actually have one). It is not so much due to changing tastes or new competition that revenues are dropping but largely down to creating a largely irrelevant product with your ridiculous cost cutting measures.
If council newspapers get the heave ho will the management dickheads put that extra revenue back into the papers. Will they fuck.
They will just carrying on bleeding the market dry until it's time to discard the husk the local paper now is and move on.