AUTHOR, BLOGGER and self proclaimed ‘industry outsider’, Andrew McKenzie has detailed the decline and imminent demise of the newspaper as a medium.
Talking at a Coventry Conversations he outlined the threat that internet news websites, blogging and the economic climate pose to the sustainability of print publications.
Referring to the amount of jobs being lost in UK media, he commended the professionalism and determination of the thousands of journalists facing unemployment in the US.
“Someone gets their phone out and records their managing director telling them that the newspaper is closing, you have to hand it to journalists, they always report the news even if it is ‘everybody is being sacked’”
“What they do is go out and blog about it, so you can now get a very good idea of what exactly is going on from blogs themselves.”
He outlined the importance of online sources in informing both industry workers and outsiders of the scale, gravity and importance of the possible closures.
“Previously, perhaps, if an organisation had to shut down a news outlet, that was the end of it. Now all the journalists go and start websites and start blogging about it”
He explained how the US is struggling with media finances and predicted severe cuts in the near future that would lead to thousands of further job losses.
“Media, particularly in the states, has already been slimmed down to such an extent – in terms of employment – that it is quite small industry, and if you compare those job losses to figures that you hear on the news about job losses here, then 10,000 jobs in the US isn’t such a big number.”
“Any city that has two newspapers, is going to have just one newspaper. So big cities that could formerly support two newspapers are going to see the weakest of those go to the wall.”
Mackenzie claimed that there are many different approaches that can be adopted in order to relieve the industry decline; specifically he alluded to President Sarkozy of France, who has reportedly planned an $800 million bail out of the French press, which will include free newspapers for young people in order to boost reading habits.
“How free is the press going to be if they are, to any large extent, dependant on government support? There is a cultural difference between how we see it (in the UK) and how they traditionally see it in France.”
He referred to particular media moguls and conglomerates, highlighting the foresight that is required to avoid eventual termination.
“Rupert Murdoch understands that he needs to buy a young readership…so he buys Myspace because there are a lot of young people on there.”
“He understands that his industry is changing, Murdoch has been consistently smart in the judgments that he has made, you may not like his judgments, but he has stayed in the game a long time now.”
Commenting on the threat that television posed to the newspaper industry when it was introduced, Mackenzie suggested that the medium adapted, aiming to be associated with analysis, depth and even trivia and gossip. He speculated that a change of this nature, but to a higher degree could help to preserve the industry.