Big leap forward could save News-on-papers

I HAVE always dreamed of an invite from Rupert Murdoch.

Be editor of The Sun, mate? Fancy a stint as Keeping Middle-Class Old People Happy Correspondent on The Times?

I’ve even been willing to change my name to Sod Uku in order to get a big break.

Thankfully,
after years of hard graft and even harder greasing, the wait is over.
Astonishingly, the great man himself has asked me to wake up with him
every morning!

To be fair, the invite into Mr Murdoch’s bedroom
extends to us all, so it’s going to be a bit of crush on the top bunk,
but I’ll be amazed if anyone beats me in the race to squeeze his
toothpaste.

I distinctly heard his recruitment call during an interview on Radio Five Live with their business bod Jeff Randall.

Rupert’s
views on life, the universe and everything else exhausted, he turned
his attention to the very future of newspapers. And the news, my
friends, is not good.

The days of news-on-paper are numbered.

Mr
Murdoch foresees a time when news will appear on electronic tablets
every morning next to our beds. In other words, newspapers will soon be
the medium of choice for just OAPs and tramps.

That last sentence is mine, not his. He’s right, of course.

Many of you will have kids. How many of them read newson- paper through choice?

Be
honest. Between Ceefax, rolling TV news and the internet, my two
wouldn’t even pick up one of our historic organs to swat a fly. But
here’s the rub.

The chief of News Corporation is not the first
media mogul to sound the death knell for news-on-paper. Certainly most
journalists entering Fleet Street today ought to be told so that they
do so in the knowledge that they won’t reach retirement in print.

Yet
the brains behind Britain’s leading news-on-papers seem unable to grasp
the transition required to safeguard their businesses.

Most newspapers have websites. Try them out. They are barely more than a slide show of that day’s edition.

It is the equivalent of asking computer literates under the age of 50 to watch the potter’s wheel instead of Brian Potter.

Or even his brother Harry.

Confused,
clinging to CD covermounts and complacent, news-on-papers business
development managers are reacting to declining sales predictably and,
so far, unsuccessfully.

Once those nice geeks from Apple and
Microsoft develop a hand-held device able to deliver rolling news and
sport footage while we’re on the bus, what position then will newson-
papers be in to ride the wave?

After all, take away our paper and
all we have are our brand names and our bylines. So we have to ask
ourselves, if news delivery becomes 95 per cent electronic, why should
consumers choose our titles over the internet news providers currently
spending millions of pounds and thousands of spam-hours wooing new
generations of readers?

I don’t think sending Quentin Letts to Specsavers will somehow cut the mustard.

Ironically,
Rupert Murdoch is in the best place to keep his brands alive. I am
constantly amazed that his news-on-paper titles don’t already carry
dozens of links to services where readers can get Sky news bulletins
and the latest Premiership goals on their phones every morning. At a
cost, obviously.

This is business after all.

Imagine a
newspaper where you could read in-depth analysis of a breaking news
story and then interact with the sister website to see moving pictures
of the drama?

It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that
football fans, after reading their favourite writer’s analysis of their
latest game, would pay even more than the price of a daily paper to see
footage of their favourite team scoring.

Even after a short story
on the latest on the Saddam trial, what better than to point readers to
SunTV where they can see moving footage of the big fella, instead of a
black and white snapshot.

If editors are worried that readers
will abandon all print titles immediately at the prospect of
FleetStreetTV, then simply print passwords in the papers that would
allow access to the channels and would first require a paper purchase.

It is astonishing that print journalists in 2006 are not armed with video recorders to capture their interviews.

Of
course, by all means first read a Robbie Williams interview in Bizarre…
but then download the full footage of the chat, maybe including a song,
to your phone/Rupert Murdoch’s bedside table. At a price.

I for one would pay good money to see the moving footage captured by the paparazzi every Saturday night!

The
heavies are trying with their computer CD-ROMs packed with extras, but
news-on-papers have the technology and ability now to become totally
interactive.

Why should Sky TV have the monopoly on all those new
fangled ‘citizen journalists’ out there willing to provide mobile phone
footage of major incidents for free?

I’m 42, you know. A
newspaper over breakfast is one of life’s little pleasures. But time is
precious. SunTV, MirrorTelly, MailOnScreen beamed straight to my
car/office/toilet may become a necessity.

Call these services what you will. Believe me. A bit like garlic bread, it’s the future.

The
problem is, too many ageing news-on-paper thinkers seem to be facing
this certain future armed only with tricks from the past.

SPARE A thought for Gary Neville, up before the FA beaks soon over his goal celebration against Liverpool.

When
Manchester United scored a last-minute winner against their number-one
rivals, Neville ran to the Scousers and took the mick.

Sports reporters – from print, radio and TV – queued up to condemn him.

That’s the problem with sports reporters.

A
last-minute goal for fans and players can often mean losing their
heads. A last-minute goal for sport reporters merely means they face
the headache of a re-write.

The press-box lynch mob ought to remember that they are writing for real fans, not neutrals like themselves and their mates.

Tony Livesey is editor-in-chief of Sport Newspapers

Comments
No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

20 + eighteen =

CLOSE
CLOSE