Monday, April 11, 2011

NoW scandal ringing in end of tabloid era?

The hacking scandal of NoW could well accelerate the decline of readership and thus
circulation. Newspapers are losing readers anyhow, gradually and continually.
Coming into real disrepute now with that scandal is likely to decrease their value for
advertisers because once a newspaper, a radio or TV channel is not taken serious
anymore so are the ads appearing there. All of it is regarded ever more as ludicrous,
silly, even by the most narrow minded readers.

The newspapers of News International are in any case not profitable. Murdoch is
subsidizing them out of the other News Corps operations. A further decline of
revenue of the newspapers is thus becoming a serious dead weight in News Corp's
balance sheets. This subsidy to loss making newspapers is any case a serious
issue with investors in News Corp shares.

That scandal might eventually have some funny aspects. A great part of tabloid
buyers are rather old, with not too much education and living in rather humble
circumstances. It is not usual that those eldery folks buy two, three or even four
tabloids every day, spending between twenty or thirty Euros a week on such
papers, a lot for somebody getting just a small pension.

Those readers are the ones who  believe every word written in those newspapers.
If something is in the papers then it must be true. The nonsense in those papers
can't be crass enough to shake their belief, their faith or superstitions. Now that
this scandal is even on TV even they cannot escape information and news about
the media, their newspapers. It is something like the scandals of priests.

The involvement and connection of politicians with the tabloids is likely to be
another point that works against Murdoch's papers. Once people realize they can
punish politicians by saving on the outlay for newspapers an additional few percent
of readers and revenue are gone. Other motives might come in. When a newspaper
is falling into disgrace the motives, reasons for disliking and getting rid of it are
usually varied, very nuanced, there are lots of them.

Then there is Hugh Grant, the actor, who recorded what an ex - reporter had to
say, was eager to tell about News of the World. That story, published in the
Statesman, made it round the world. It gave online suddenly a juicy and funny
inside look at such newspapers.

It is going to be interesting to see what happens. This is what has happened in the
United States: a look at the number of layoffs in the newspaper industry.
Here in Ireland the prospects for the media, including those belonging to NI, are
not looking good for many reasons, the economic crisis being one of them.

So, what books can be recommended in the event of a media crisis, to be
prepared for the worst?
There is the satirical crime novel written by John Denton, a veteran NYT
reporter: Black And White And Dead All Over. It gives, among others, an
insight into how narrow minded media people can be. And it has all the
essentials of satirical crime novel. Here is the introduction.

And ever since this scandal includes politics and politicians and as the
last decade was one of rather extreme amounts of spin, the history of
propaganda by Philip M. Taylor might be of interest. Taylor writes really
well, he is very knowledgable and has a sense of humor.
A nice insight into the book is possible via Google books, most of the first
part can read here.

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