Hot Topic - UK Newspapers
By most accounts, print circulation seems to have bottomed out. Losses from the digital decades are starting to reverse, albeit slightly. Print advertising, however, may never recover. Digital advertising, which benefits Facebook more than publishers, seems to have stalled except for mobile ads, expected to overtake TV sometime soon, maybe, unless the ad blockers take over. All of this is just opportunity.
Intertwined like the DNA double helix the Royal Charter for press self-regulation was officially adopted by the Queen as the first criminal trial over phone hacking and other tawdry deeds gets underway in the UK. That some UK newspaper publishers seem not to connect the two is remarkable, something on the order of denying the laws of science. That such a “medieval instrument” as the signature of the monarch was deemed necessary testifies to the political – if not popular – misunderstanding of the flow of information as the digital age enters its maturity.
Experienced negotiators know how to read a room. Parties in dispute resort to name-calling – or worse – as deadlines approach. The skilled practitioner knows this is the moment to ferret out a solution. Threats, you see, really do work and once the inevitable is clear hearts and minds will follow.
Every tabloid editor knows what moves eyeballs. It’s a skill passed on generation after generation, unbound by geography. Dirt on celebrities and politicians is fine but nothing beats that grainy photo of a well-known somebody starkers. Brilliance is causing talk on the street, any street, and maybe a lawsuit. Leveraging a better business deal is genius.
For the news media to speak truth to power assumptions are that power – and the powerful – are not coagulated with those speaking, lest confusion reign. Power may be the ultimate social force, bigger than money and often more fun. But confusion is a force unto itself when sown carefully into the fabric.
There is an obsession in many circles with that select set of individuals who principally own big media companies. Some are reclusive and others thrive on attention. Few are at a loss for opinion on the way the world works and, certainly, the way it affects their business. And they do like things to be the way they want them.
For the news media’s most piercing voices scandal is stock in trade, titillation is currency. The public has, it seems, an insatiable interest for stories that bring the rich, powerful or simply well-known back to earth. Feeding that human instinct is an unbeatable business model.
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