Wednesday, May 31, 2006

W(h)ither newspapers?

The Guardian's main leader today is about the relative rise of the internet and decline of newspapers. In Britain this year it is estimated that the net will carry a slightly higher proportion (about 13%) of total advertising spending than will national newspapers. Interestingly regional and local papers continue to carry more than either at around 20%. I've long maintained at election campaigns that local newspapers have far more reach and influence than national ones do and advertiser seem to agree.

It's easy to get carried away about the Internet as the dot com bubble proved. The CEO of the company I worked for got over-excited about it and his enthusiasm led indirectly to thousands of redundancies including mine as we paid the price for his costly dabbling. He got kicked out as well but on rather better terms than the rest of us! But it is exciting that Google's founders started off with no real idea of how they were going to make money. As the leader writer puts it "Just as Lord Reith could not have predicted either Big Brother or News 24, so few can predict what this new medium will give us in the future.".

But bloggers shouldn't get too excited; when even the popular 'political' sites in the UK are getting only a few thousand hits a day and the rest of us managing with low hundreds or fewer, we're a long way from influencing many of the UK's sixty million inhabitants or even their 'opinion formers'. In contrast a local paper is liable to be read by at least a third of the population it serves. So keep those pro-Labour letters to your local editor flowing......

6 Comments:

At 12:29, Blogger Political Teenager said...

There was a piece in the Evening Standard's Media section last night about how blogs will never kill real journalism by Peter Wilby.

He seemed to be missing the point about what blogs are and the comments that are put on them but he made a fair point in that the low readership numbers, even of the larger ones mean that they are unlikely to challenge popular press for some time, and because to a certain extent their audiences are specialised and not representative of the UK they will stuggle to hold the same influence as a local or national paper

 
At 17:47, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Never is a dangerous word but I expect he's right. But isn't what he wrote a bit like saying that hoovering won't kill cider-making ie sort of confusing for example apples and washing machines?

 
At 19:04, Blogger Political Teenager said...

Possibly but then you have the examples of Iain Dale and Guido, only today, saying that they need financial sponsors or advertising to make the blogs cost effective.

 
At 19:40, Blogger skipper said...

Yes, you no doubt saw Iain Dale's post today in which we learn he got 114K hits last month and Guido gets many more. There's another US blog called Gawper, I think, that gets over a million a day. At present though we tiny band of political bloggers talk to each other and reach a relative handful of people but who knows how important eg if they are opinion formers- that number might prove to be? Besides, most of us do it for the interest and the fun and that's enough.

 
At 21:10, Blogger Hughes Views said...

PH and Skip - thanks for your thoughts.

Iain Dale's and Guido's are highly politically motivated blogs; it's interesting that they must spend so much time on theirs and are now looking for a more tangible reward for their efforts. Iain's statistics were of interest, they suggest fewer than 4,000 hits a day and I guess these are not all the unique users he hopes they are - the statistics packages seem to struggle to detect returning visitors especially the ones who don't accept cookies or come from address pooling schemes. Even if all 4,000 were unique and from the UK (which they're not) this is still tiny by comparison with the reach of the 'broadsheets' and minuscule in comparison with local papers.

And rather than reaching 'opinion formers' I suspect that he, as we all are, is largely preaching to those already converted to his cause or his already committed opponents.

Phew, author's comments approaching the length of the original post shock horror.....

 
At 21:11, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Sorry for PH read PT in above!

 

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