Sunday, 19 April 2009

Feed The Local Papers - Eat a Media Boss

It's all our fault apparently, across the country small regional papers are folding putting journalists out of work, newspaper revenue is dropping, share prices for the major media groups tumble, and it's all our fault.

You see we've been getting it too good for too long, we've been having too much free content, going to other places for our news, places that are cheap and easy, and like a cheated lover the newspaper community is throwing china plates around the kitchen and screaming bitter recrimination.

Sly Bailey (head of Trinity Mirror Group) recently addressed the Digital Britain Summit with her call for a shake up of the media ownership rules. Sly said because newspaper bosses aren't allowed to merge regional papers making them more economical they are closing them down.

She stressed the importance of local papers, these papers are a vital local resource, they are, she added that soon people won't be able to get local news and have no representation, she's right.

Sly pouted that newspapers just can't compete with the likes of Yahoo or Google when it comes to advertising and because of this drop in revenue the smaller papers that are wrapped up in her gargantuan Trinity Mirror Group are having to fold. She said. "If we are going to compete with a myriad of digital operations, we’re going to need more scale." Adding: "Allowing regional newspaper publishers to merge is the only way to limit the damage to our industry."

Erm....what?

This is the same Sly Bailey who in April 2006 got awarded a 12.9% increase on her £620,000 salary, just months after several hundred of Trinity Mirror's 11,000 staff had been made redundant due to slumps in advertising revenue isn't it?

The same Sly Bailey who received a 41.8% increase in her remuneration package in 2006. At the same time management continued to make redundancies and impose below inflation pay increases on its staff?

The same Sly bailey who qualified to receive 100 per cent of her bonus entitlement, which at £793,000 was equivalent to 110 per cent of her salary and a remuneration package including a further £240,000, one-third of her salary, as her annual pensions contribution despite a loss in profits and the share price collapsing?

The same Sly Bailey who brought in management consultants who recommended the sale of assets including the Racing Post, Midland Independent Newspapers and Trinity Mirror South. Only actually managing to sell the Racing Post, the remainder of the company's Sports Division, and parts of TMS?

Actually I see it now, that failed sell-off left Trinity Mirror with a large amount of titles that they couldn't sell. Wouldn't it be a good solution to package them together under one 'Super-Regional' edition. Something like the 'The Daily Eastern-South-West Echo' that might attract a buyer, and anything will do considering Trinity-Mirror's worth has dropped from 1.5bn down to 250m.

Now, how do we get around that tricky merger law? Oh yes, blame the internet for giving out free news, it's cheap and nasty and is killing journalism.

Of course, it IS local journalism that suffers, the smaller papers will be cut to make way for Boss's pensions and falling circulation, and this is a problem. But merging them into one of the motherships like News International or Trinity Mirror is hardly going to ensure balanced, quality, local journalism.

If Sly is so concerned with their plight, cut bonuses (after all The Mirror believes that Fat Cat Bosses shouldn't get rewarded for failure!!), streamline the operation, I know this will mean layoffs, I know this will be unpopular, but improving quality of the publications may help sell them.

Also I'm sure we all know some 'Journalists' that we could do without.

Sly isn't the only one jumping on the bandwagon, Damien Reece of the Telegraph blames Brown's Digital Britain, Peter Preston in the Observer calls for an 'Internet Licence fee'.

It's that last piece that worries me, not for the rambling nonsense that it deals with but for a quote from the Grand-High Poobah of Media Himself Rupert Murdoch. The quote reads:

"Nobody is making money with free content on the web except search, and people are used to reading everything on the net for free - and that's going to have to change."

Unfortunately he'll probably do it......

1 comment:

Darrell Butcher said...

You'll have to amend that journalist link as unfortunately, it has been corrupted and goes through to something called Richard Littlejohn, which unless I'm very much mistaken, is a slang term used to describe the female genitalia.

As for Peter Preston, most of his columns in that venerable organ verge on the rambling and to be honest end up going nowhere fast.
The one issue that gets me ranting is the idea that newspapers will go the way of the dodo and we will all read the digital version, either online or on a hand held device. As I spend far to much time on my mac at home and the dreaded pc at work, the last thing I want to do is "relax" by reading the paper online!

And don't get me started on digital books..............