Media: August 2009 Archives

f4jsantas.jpgLast night, with the heads of the four other parties' press teams here in Holyrood, I did a presentation and Q&A for the Chartered Institute of PR and an audience of about fifty. 

Although the others on the panel are my direct competition both for stories and within stories, we actually all get on well, and I thought the panel operated as a pretty good team.

However, it was all Chatham House rules, which prevents me from retelling entertaining stories about the career of Ramsay Jones, the Tories' head of media here. I can say his advice was excellent, and he's also the author of one of the best media comments ever. When Fathers4Justice piled up the Santas on Holyrood's roof, he gave following the line (roughly) "Whatever the rights and wrongs of their case, it's inappropriate to give kids the impression there's more than one Santa."

Those same Chatham House rules also prevent me from embarrassing one of the PR agencies who came along. Suffice it to say (and this is within the rules*) it's not the best way to win friends in this bit of Parliament to come up afterwards and try to pick a fight over a project your company has worked for and which we don't support. 

The kicker - at the end of that conversation, to try to build some bridges, I said "do let me know if any of your clients do anything sustainable that we might take an interest in", but in a moment of honesty I was told no, none of them do. Can't say I was surprised.

* "When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed."
rockymountain.jpgWhen Rupert Murdoch proposed charging for access to News International websites, there were predictions that a stampede of other titles would join in. 

Obviously the smart thing to do for anyone considering taking this approach is to see what it does to Rupert's bottom line, but many are going beyond waiting and seeing.

The Telegraph, for instance, have described it as "a gift to the competition", and if you can think of a more direct competitor to the Times than the Telegraph, do tell. 

The Guardian's heading in the opposite direction: they just took down the last paywall, although that was only around the crossword. A members' club, something they are considering, is not the same beast. The question is this: can you read the paper online or not?

There are somewhat more plausible moves to charge afoot in the States, but the bottom line remains that it'd be a cartel, and there'll be more opportunities in undermining a cartel than there are in taking part. 

Imagine all the UK broadsheets join a paywall conglomerate apart from the Guardian or the Telegraph. Which paper will you read online? Which familiar commentators will you choose when you're buying a paper copy for the train? Who gets blogged about? Which proprietor has influence, which remember is what most people own newspapers for?

If you really want to know what's happening, the best guide is the Kübler-Ross model, which set out the five stages of grief. I shall lazily point you to the Wikipedia page. Here are the stages, as they apply to the newspaper industry:

1. Denial - "This can't be happening, not to me, I have a three-hundred-year-old business model." (c. 2002 - 2004)
2. Anger - "Who is to blame? Is it Craiglist or those pesky bloggers?" (c. 2005 to 2009)
3. Bargaining - "I'll try paywalls again if it gives me a few more years." (right now)
4. Depression - "This industry's going to die. What's the point?" (when the Murdoch experiment fails, probably within a year from when it's brought in)
5. Acceptance - "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."

I'm not sure what the model is for the last phase, and I desperately hope it still includes as much good journalism and commentary as possible. But I'm convinced that Clay Shirky's more likely right about this than Tom Harris or the more thoughtful Doctor Vee.

Previously here:

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Media category from August 2009.

Media: July 2009 is the previous archive.

Media: September 2009 is the next archive.