Newspapers face “very real and serious problem”

Fewer newspapers are being bought, even at reduced prices

Media commentator, Raymond Snoddy, believes the Independent newspaper “will not be with us by next year” as its owner, Independent News and Media, struggles to curtail its mounting losses in the current economic recession.  The presenter of the BBC’s accountability programme, Newswatch, told his student audience at Coventry University that he also perceived more “casualties” in the British print press to emerge over time.

He said the Independent’s future looked increasingly bleak because the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) has made it known that they do not intend to acquire it, and as a result, this has presented “a very real and serious problem”.  Snoddy also accused the mid-market newspaper, the Daily Express, of deliberately gearing down its operations by cutting costs and staff numbers, and taking money out of the business, with the result that in “five to 10 years time, it won’t be here”.

“The Daily Express will no longer remain a legitimate business enterprise, he said.”  “In the UK, any person could buy the Independent tomorrow for £1.  You might get it for less than that, but the problem is you have to take on annual losses of £10million.”  In comparison, and contrary to public perception, he referred to News International Chairman, Rupert Murdoch as “a great man”, claiming his recent investment of £600million on new print presses in the UK showed how he was “an investor in newspapers and journalism”.

Snoddy referred to News International Chairman, Rupert Murdoch as “a great man”

Murdoch recently remarked how newspaper owners are becoming increasingly greedy, with profit margins reaching 30% and upwards.  “In future, they will have to start thinking about 15%,” Snoddy claimed.  The former media editor of The Times, however, said that the “biggest problem of all” was the local and regional press which would suffer due to classified advertising moving online because of the latter’s efficiency and international reach.

According to Snoddy, the British public should be concerned with the frequent closure of local press titles, because “what really matters is the method used to fund the news gathering that leads on to other platforms”.  He added: “Most stories start from local reporters and move up the food chain.  The BBC, for instance, is deeply parasitic and gets most of its ideas and information from local journalists who have to do all the leg work.”

Snoddy said the Guardian newspaper is a model more should follow, putting journalism before profit, where the priority rests with “producing a newspaper based on the values” of that title.

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