Is online journalism going down the toilet?

A Press Gazette reader has sent in a photo montage made up of scatological stories published by Mirror Online.

The point they make is that they feel many of these stories fall below the standard required to achieve publication in the print edition of this proud journalism brand.

While this contributor singles out Mirror Online, I am sure similar points can be made about many of the stories which appear on other national newspaper websites.

We are still in a period of experimentation online, where newspapers are trying new types of content driven largely by metrics – what people click on.

The trouble is if you let yourself be ruled entirely by metrics you might have a website filled entirely with cats, poos and photos of vacuous celebs in their swimming costumes. You could end up with a site so vulgar and banal that no-one would want to advertise on it.

So a balance must be struck.

Even when news websites are free we are asking readers to spend a valuable commodity with us – their time. The time of journalists is even more valuable.

My hunch is that for professional news organisations to survive they must produce all their content to the same high editorial standard. Their USP is their professionalism.

My personal feeling is that looking at the websites of the Mirror, Sun and Daily Mail in particular – their online content does not always reach the high standard I would expect of those brands. I think that is a mistake.

A spokesperson for the Mirror noted that these screenshots span “many years” and are not a snapshot of the content on the site. They said they should be seen in the context of the fact that Mirror Online publishes more than 500 stories per day.

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