The clarity of pain: Fumbling towards a post-recession meedja
Creative destruction can be a nice aspect of a downturn. Duff retailers are going. Shops that looked squatted anyway in my area and sold the same bootleg dross and gone off veg as all the others are now shuttered. They had no reason to exist except for the usuals of easy money and lack of imagination.
Many papers and media outlets have had little reason to exist for a long time. A friend showed me an Indy last Friday and it seemed like an Evening Standard for the shrivelling Soft Left. Maybe the rumours of going online only or selling out are correct because otherwise it makes as much sense to produce as a dinner plate made of organic, ethical and wholly sustainable butter.
It is not an original idea on my part, but I sense that the muddled middle of the media and redundant, poorly defined and funded titles will hit the wall. This could leave a world of nourishing news and thought alongside the delicious trash. Junkets and voyeurism vs. real seriousness. There can be little room in such a world for broadsheets in particular who put out transparently biased, tabloid grade churnalism without the simple honesty of the real thing.
Pick up a Forty Quid Bloke targeted music supplement on a Sunday and you’ll soon realise it is far more fanboyish and PR-driven than even the Sun’s Bizzare pages. It just would never admit to using the Sun to clean up after its vegetarian dog. If you want to learn about music, go online or read something relevant and critic run rather than PR led like Wire.
Sadly, the curtain twitching petit bourgouis stereotype baiting papers that used to be called the ‘midmarket’ will continue to set political and cultural agendas. This is a scared, superstitious and monochromatic world where facebook causes death, cannabis leads to cannibalism, immigrants eat swans and cervical cancer jabs lead to underage orgies. They are geniunely dangerous to civil society in a way the much maligned, simple and fun Red Tops could never aspire to be. I fear their shrill blare can only get louder as horizons darken.
In better news, Pearson’s stable and the heavyweight monthlies such as Prospect and Standpoint are doing well. Maybe when everything has gone wrong serious people look for real anchors to guide the way. In fact, I noticed a banner for the FT’s heavily trailed China Confidential premium service which further hinted at a future where organisations with the resources and contacts to conduct serious newsgathering and analysis will give away a lot of their stuff but charge you more to know more about what you know you really need to know. Like provincial politics in China if you are an investor or insurer, etc. Trade media could slim down and go the same free for the basics, pay to get the need to know stuff direction. This new clarity could be a boon for many…