NEWS LIMITED’S chief executive, John Hartigan, has launched a broadside on bloggers and other online amateurs, arguing they are no substitute for professional journalists…
His most scathing attack was reserved for bloggers, who, he said, lacked resources and access to key decision-makers.
“In return for their free content, we pretty much get what we’ve paid for – something of such limited intellectual value as to be barely discernible from massive ignorance,” he said.
He said blogs often gave a platform for “radical sweeping statements unsubstantiated with evidence”.
A spray from the chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited. The News Ltd newspapers’ archives from the noughties will make an interesting read in a few decades – once sustainable renewable energy systems are in place, once we have become a republic and once we have a decent appreciation for liberal democracy and how it works.
No, blogs won’t beat you fellas – they’re not supposed to and we are not even trying to “beat” mainstream news. We need professional reporters and journalists and commercial entities that can sustain a culture of independent journalism. And there is such a thing as a sense of truth as long as we communicate through language and symbols, even if we can’t agree on what it actually is.
There is a contradiction in spin. On the one hand someone who goes about on a campaign of spin – such as WMDs in Iraq, the promotion of nuclear power, global warming denial, intelligent design, etc – knows they are playing with words deceitfully, and yet, they then expect their words to carry weight as if the spin were a singular truth. Perhaps it goes beyond the words and false claims to the culture driving the spin – the ends justify the means if only the spin turns the opinion polls this way or that. So that the hollow men can act. But that’s so boring and predictable – maybe that has more to do with the recent decline of papers.
6 July 2009
A reply on the topic of corporate versus individual public space and media (dressed up as News Ltd vs bloggers) from Mark Day in today’s The Australian is worth quoting:
I am heartened by the number of blog site respondents who say they would be willing to pay for material that, in Hartigan’s words, is “well researched, brilliantly written, perceptive and intelligent, professionally edited, accurate and reliable”.
I’d like to think that defines a large part of what a newspaper such as The Australian produces every day.
Corporate culture – As long as it has a price label attached to it, the more it costs the more real it is. I thought the WFC challenged the reality of that axiom.
More than anyone else, Hartigan is plugged into worldwide trends, information, research, experiments, technologies, think tanks and consultancies. As part of the global News Corporation (publisher of The Australian) he is at the cutting edge of the media experience.
When I was in New York recently I arranged a briefing from the people in The Wall Street Journal’s “skunk works”, the futurology department, where new concepts are developed and technological innovations tested. It was very interesting to hear of developments in micro-payment systems, to fiddle with products such as the Kindle e-reader and speculate on Apple’s whispered response — a device similar to the iPhone but with a screen four times the size.
They’re called tablet PCs.
It might have already been done, but something like a bendable thin sheet of plastic that can display monochrome black characters like a computer screen might be a breakthrough for mobile media. If it could be unfolded or unrolled into the size of a single page of a paper like The Sun and then rolled up or folded to fit into a small bag, all with the ability to load pages of text and display at least b/w pictures – that would be a winner. You might have a small edge or corner with interactive features to navigate the information – like the bottom section on the new Palm Pre – and to hold memory and comms hardware. I actually think virtual b/w pages would work better than colour for selling news – because you can do better with something like an iPhone for colour, sound and graphics. And of course, as Mark mentions, there might be micro payment options for bluetooth downloads while on public transport, etc. With b/w being the classic style for newsprint, there might be something of a resurgence in the use of virtual newspapers with such a device. If the things were cheap to mass produce as well, or at least if the plastic display pages could be easily replaced if they became worn.
But that isn’t really what quality journalism is about – even if it might be a financially sustainable platform for news. What would make it interesting is if you could download content from competing news organisations onto the same news-sheet reader – then you would have some really creative things happening. But then quality journalism and clever marketing is what it would be all about…
For virtual newspapers you could try for monochrome bendable plastic screens with static virtual pages of b/w text and pictures and the physicality could be something like a small scroll that you could unroll and read and where you could press one of a row of buttons on a main “roller” once the plastic sheet is extended to ‘scroll’ the virtual page forwards to the next page, backwards, to the menu, to the index, etc. When you are finished with reading you can roll the scroll up and pack it away for later. Classic in style…
The kindle looks like a cheap screen and anything with a flat solid screen is clunky if it is anything as large as a newspaper sheet. With a readable surface that is large and compact for when you are not using it, you could have virtual newspapers and the cost structure could be based on content packages or access to archives or newspaper sections, etc. I think it would be best if such devices were cheap and read only. If someone want to send a letter to an editor or leave a comment on the page they could do that through a separate mobile phone with a keypad.
Perusing blogs can be quite rewarding.