The past few years have been good ones for me and other news and politic watchers. Unlike my parent’s generation who usually read just one daily paper and listened to the BBC news I have enjoyed wide access to news via the internet. The ability to read a story from different perspectives, even though I might abhor some of them, and see a situation through differently tinted political lenses has been one of the defining features of the past decade.
One significant factor however has been that while the access has widened the depth and understanding of the news, as reported by the press, has diminished. Increasingly it is superficial, descending to celebrity farce in many cases, and increasingly it is propagandised. Often deliberately, but more insidiously by omission with the republishing of press releases from political parties and pressure groups without any intervening thought process or critical analysis. The press has made itself inadequate. This has fortunately been balanced by blogs and ‘non-traditional’ Internet sources. Many of which are now considerably better informed, more insightful, and more specialised than the press ever was.
As for the printed press, I think they are facing the end. Leveson and libel laws have had, and will have, a stultifying effect. I notice today all the reports about ‘the 82 year old man arrested by Yewtree detectives’. So far as I have seen only Guido Fawkes on the Order-Order blog has named him. Not because he can’t be named, simply because post-Leveson and with letters from the man’s solicitors they are too scared. The press is now censored.
The final nail in their coffins is the paywall. While I understand their need to make money, hiding out of sight seems a highly peculiar commercial method for any company that relies on selling. I see the Telegraph, just sneaking behind a paywall this week, want £20 per year to see their web pages. I suppose that for anyone who wants and needs a daily paper and would have bought a copy that’s good value. No doubt many regular addicted readers will pay it.
But for anyone who wants a variety of sources and would therefore need multiple subscriptions to multiple press publications it’s way out of reach. For the price of a freeview box I can get a number of news channels. For a basic SKY subscription I can have over a dozen, ranging from the BBC to Russia Today and many more. All of these channels also have free web pages should I prefer to read the news rather than watch it on TV, and the cost per month for the news channels is basically pennies.
Unless the press work together and come up with an affordable umbrella scheme that allows access to multiple publications at one affordable price, and it should be a price in pennies per week, they will sink into oblivion.