Facebook Confusion

Facebook has been changing in a profound way. The introduction of public usernames, friend limits have been raised, a change in privacy options, the drop in developer’s support and a calm down from user registrations. Just what is happening to Facebook? Is Facebook trying to change how users use their social networking services to gain more popularity? The ramble continues… in a dangerous unscripted podcast.

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Liberty of the Press

“The time, is to be hoped, is gone by, when any defence would be necessary of the ‘liberty of the press’ as one of the securities against corrupt or tyrannical government.”

When John Stuart Mill wrote that in his essay On Liberty he was immediately contradicted by the introduction of the ‘Government Press Prosecutions 1858’. Mill stated at the time that he didn’t think he had been contradicted since prosecutions were rarely carried out and were not related to political disagreement but rather what is to be deemed immoral.

John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill is certainly one of my favourite philosophers. An influence that always seems to be missed when counting opinion leaders from the 19th Century. A self-confessed agnostic that published atheistic papers after his death in order to avoid controversy and public disagreement. An individual who could read Greek fluently at three years of age thanks to an experiment by his father, James Mill. Mill was briefly an MP at Westminster and was highly aware of society; particularly conformities of middle class life which Mill feared would remove the importance of liberty. Mill was certainly a lucid thinker who did not fear transitioning from one opinion to another and saw the virtue of intellect as the highest good, the summum bonum. However, he remained faithful to his father and remained a utilitarian for all his life.

This may indeed be the reason why Mill is commonly viewed as only a writer of utilitarianism. If truth is to be told his essay On Liberty caused the most controversy during his life. The liberty of the press really deals with the liberty of thought and discussion. Should thought and discussion be suppressed? Quite clearly we now live in an age where a whole manner of content can be found upon the internet devoid of any control or suppression.

It could be argued that modern social networking technologies are causing the press a bit of a nightmare. Twitter for instance (I know, I know, I mentioned Twitter yet again) means that journalists have to be particularly aware of their own image. Unfortunately, beyond the powers of PR, anything you write as an individual could be broadcasted around and give you bad press. In the digital sense of liberty, concerning public opinion, you have to remain accountable for your own actions.

You may remember back in 2007 that “Angry scenes greet Oxford debate” ahead of talks by BNP leader Nick Griffin and historian David Irving. I was 17 at the time of this row and I have to confess my opinion still remains the same. I completely disagree with the way Nick Griffin and David Irving were greeted. Not only is it inconsiderate, indecent but it is also childish. Put to one side any disagreements with their views – academia has to be a mix. It is what the Latin universes means “combined into one”. University should be a mix of all academic opinion, not just the mainstream.

Please don’t for one moment believe that I am a BNP supporter or holocaust denier, but any lover of academia has to separate the mainstream from the truth. The incident at Oxford is exactly what Mill argued against On Liberty. All silencing of discussion is the assumption of infallibility, an arrogance which is not worthy to call itself intellectually curious or wise. Mill saw that whilst people could see fallibility in theory many don’t make precautions against personal fallibility. Whilst you and I may believe the holocaust to 100% happen this does not remove the need for others to speak about it. Mill saw that mainstream beliefs were often a mix between true and false. Often fascists provide a single truthful piece of jigsaw which may fit to the mainstream view. Academic opinion is about grasping many views and constructing your own view.

One student/protester argued, “This has nothing to do with free speech, it’s about giving credibility to fascists, making them appear to be part of the mainstream”. By no means will a view such as Nick Griffins become mainstream (although recent elections make you wonder) and so why not listen? I can’t think of anything more satisfying than to admit knowing a fascist view but then having the ability to refute it. Wise men should see that they can rely upon their own judgements which should not deter them from listening to others.

Really the liberty of the press is no different than this offertory of opinion. All individuals should have the right to voice their opinion. Mill saw how very few facts have the ability to explain themselves without comment.

Christopher Hitchens, one of my favourite journalists, has had some very controversial views in relation to Mother Teresa and her activities during her life. When the Catholic Church decide who to make a Saint, a process known as canonization, there is an individual called a “Devil’s Advocate” who offers alternative views. Christopher Hitchens has been a devil’s advocate during the case to argue against Mother Teresa becoming a saint. Mill observed that despite the intolerance of the Catholic Church, the holiness of its men, facts and opinion still needed to be weighed to reach a conclusion.

It has to be seen that opinion within the press should be unmonitored. Mill’s words could have very well been written through fear radical press invoked on the higher classes. He certainly did not want to hear the voices of the lower classes evaporate through controls set by those in higher power. Like all ages ours is unique with the internet, where opinion may flourish without setback but how will liberty within present day media remain?

Taking Things Easy

This article has been written for you from The Kingfisher, the narrow boat I am currently living on. Although knowing the difficulties of finding wireless internet connection on the River Wey this article has most likely come to you from a quick ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ from my home in Cheam. I can gladly boast that the power which is currently running my laptop has been gathered from an auxiliary battery generated by the diesel engine which has powered my narrow boat trip from Godalming to the Thames.

Narrow boat ventures are always a pleasurable way to past the time. Ultimately narrow boaters could be blamed for wasting their time as hire boats only usually travel one way up a river or canal and then proceed to just re-track their watery steps back to the home mooring spot. The narrow boat I am currently living on has been borrowed from a family friend, although, as a family, we use it so often that it could be claimed as a second home.

Until you step foot onto a narrow boat it is very easy to believe that outer London is as built up as anti-housing movements proclaim claim it to be. Past the urban outskirts of Surrey lies a secret garden of rural magnificents which is so easily lost by those who drive so hurriedly in their metal boxes above the river/canal ways of Surrey. For the past three days I have spotted Cows, Deer and a Kestrel. I believe the Kestrel is the only bird which can achieve a completely stationary flight but I may be wrong. The lack of internet access stops me from researching further into animal facts.

There is much farm land which has only been touched by the farmer or the fellow narrow boater; who ensures with etiquette that no rubbish has been left behind on an overnight stay. To sit one evening in the middle of rural Britain, on a very still river way, next to untouched farm land and sucker the warmth of a coal fire is quite simply priceless. I am pleased to have achieved this without the need of a cigarette so far. Despite drinking almost every evening the need of a cigarette seems to have almost completely left my system. As I write this I have had a glass of ale although I do admit that a very small part of me still misses the smell of tobacco and the rise of smoke in the air. An evening on the narrow isn’t blemished without a cigarette but it does seem unusual knowing my terrible habit.

Anyway, I would love to diverge further, divulge into the less titillating facts of narrow boat exploration but my food has finished cooking and an evening waits of card games and reading. Incidentally, whilst a narrow boat holiday could be criticised the coupled benefit of reading colossal amounts and learning how to take life slowly cannot. The internet has sped up the world, the narrow boat is my cure to slow myself down.

Summer Siesta

I only have a few more hours until the second part of my ‘main’ holiday starts for this summer. It has been raining for most of the day which has begged the question if I really want to be standing on the back of our (I say our, we sort of share it with a family friend) narrow boat. I don’t claim to be good at many things, especially with practical tasks, but I can drive a narrow boat. Although do I really drive a narrow boat. Don’t I sail a narrow boat? Some people say that you motor a narrow boat. If I motor a narrow boat then why don’t we motor a car? Besides, isn’t motor a noun? Suppose it doesn’t matter, Shakespeare spent most of his time making nouns verbs.

Besides, I have bigger problems at hand, how I have foolishly decided to stop smoking. Being wise is another thing I don’t claim to be good at. If I was wise then I wouldn’t have started smoking in the first place but curiosity does kill the cat. Once you reach the legal age to buy a product everyone tells you should avoid, of course you will use your new found position in society to purchase that same product. When the government were discussing ‘under the counter sales’ for tobacco products I found it difficult thinking of anything more exciting all of that week. Most people like it when they lead a lifestyle which is different to others, smoking is certainly fast becoming one of those lifestyles.

Foolish but Pleasurable

Despite the physical cigarette being a commercial item it does entail a need for lifestyle change. In hindsight it is obvious beyond comprehension that this lifestyle is to be considered lesser than that of a non-smoker. However, smoking is still a choice, it is still legal, it is the highest taxed item within the UK’s market and so should be respected as a debt releasing medicine. If everybody smoked in the UK our shameless loan we have as a country (which requires more key strokes than I can offer you currently) would be eradicated fairly quickly. I believe our government has borrowed almost 4/5 of our country’s GDP. Staggering! Typically we only pay the interest of this loan, but don’t worry, we won’t go bust, our government will just print more money. Eventually we may even reach a Zimbabwean finale. So our country is in a bad position and smoking is a vice. The thought of a vice leading to a virtue? Possibly.

Time to light up those cigarettes, those torches of freedom, but I am unsure to do so at the moment. I can’t say that I won’t ever smoke again. I might decide to light up a cigarette tomorrow evening unless these pesky cravings disappear but even stopping temporarily has meant not smoking 20/30 death sticks this week. A saving of almost £10 and I am a student who is purely faithful to the straight and narrow, the Marlboro and Mayfair and consequently I need to save and earn that money.

What better time to earn and save that money than in the summer. When voting for the student union elections this year an awful lot of emphasis was placed upon the question, “What do you think of our current term times?” The majority of candidates quite rightly said how it was disgraceful that university terms are getting shorter and our costs are going up. However, the alternative side to that question was only answered by one candidate, a girl, who pointed out that the summer is an excellent time to earn money. Perhaps an excellent time to earn money if you have found the opportunity. I am one of the fortunate few and almost embarrassed to say I have more than one job on at a time. Thomas Paine said how the harder he worked the more luck he seemed to have. I am inclined to believe the same, I am working fairly hard and have reaped benefits so far.

There is an awful lot of luck mixed into my summer work and before I spend any money I keep in mind that the summer is only temporary. Whilst I imagine myself to have enough money to be set for life, I only actually have enough money for a few university meals and nights out. Saving money into separate accounts also ignores the fact I already owe over £3000 in course fees for my first year at university. People who started university only to not work and drop out must be mad, insane, loopyloo with the drooping tongue proudly resting upon thy chin.

I miss the academic edge university provides the left side of my brain, the great friends I have made in the last year (9 months) and being almost fully dependent. I look forward to starting next year, hoping my module choices will be satisfactory and cracking on with lots of new skills, challenges and projects. As a perspective onto student life I honestly can’t say that since my holidays have started I have worked any less. It is utterly untrue and dishonest to say that all students don’t work. It would also be false to presume working is an inconvenience, if I wasn’t busy then I would be bored. Although the thought of not smoking for the next bit of my holiday; an inconvenience and bloody irritating.

Public Relationships

Having digressed into an article within ‘Books Quarterly’ magazine into the Orwellian opinion of CCTV cameras I have just noticed that it was placed there by Public Relations means with a cheeky veiled liberty-human-rights.org.uk. The subject of CCTV, perhaps better named SS (Surveillance Systems) is seen as a sly activity, even underhand, with the way our movements are recorded without recollection. So how is this different to the way Public Relations operates?

I know Public Relations doesn’t store our DNA into a database, keep a record of our finger prints, watch our every move on a monitor or demand us to walk around with an ID card. You would even be hard pushed to call Public Relations parasitical with the way it operates, but it is viral. Make no mistake; a parasitical entity doesn’t come coupled with viral methods.

The main downfall with Public Relation is how to actually explain the industry without your sentence becoming superfluous or tedious. Even more frustrating when I am asked by people, “So… which degree have you chosen to study?” Gah! There is no way for it. I only can explain the industry through examples. There is no point quoting the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) or IPRA (International Public Relations Association) as their definitions change every few years. To be quite honest, without wanting to be so vulgar to force the sick from your mouth, Public Relations is about relationships.

I am afraid these relationships don’t love. Hardly agape in nature, I have yet to find a communication model where a company or organisation confers with publics on an unconditional level. Let’s face it, I probably won’t ever find a model. May sound cynical to say so but a company needs your money and so does a charity. Relationships between PR and the public is like marrying a girl for her cooking skills.

The only way I can illustrate my point is by reverting back to ePR. If we consider that Public Relations, in the real world, has only been around prominently since the late 20th Century you may conceive how new the industry is. This may help put a perspective with how new ePR is. Personally I can’t see how ePR could have existed effectively before the birth of Web 2.0. The development of ePR strongly depends on the social networking foundations it stands upon. Each year these foundations radically change in one sense or another, which makes ePR fragile in two senses.

  1. It is very easy to destroy a company’s reputation by doing something wrong online (just look at Habitat UK)
  2. Online communication changes all the time. This in turn changes how ePR plans will be constructed.

ePR is essentially viral, a message is communicated over the internet and spreads. If anything ePR is the worst offender of viral messaging. You may believe I have forgotten all about advertising but advertising is parasitical. A message just keeps popping up for the user. Those of us who used computers in the 1990s (although I was very young!) will remember the same old pop-up windows greeting us on certain sites. Advertising is far too noisy to be credited with being sly. The only way advertising could be called sly is through subconscious messages but this seems to me accidental rather than planned. In a world where dozens of brands for a single product exist, of course advertising will become subconscious, there is too much to focus on directly.

I don’t mean to discredit advertising, there is a place for it in the world and without it a full marketing plan wouldn’t be possible. Just that Public Relations seems to lack in the relations department. It has the ability to be cold like advertising when we cast our eyes away from customer satisfaction. I might be completely wrong, I am ready to admit defeat but there is no doubt about it, Public Relations is sly and charming. Although does anybody really want a relationship with somebody who is sly and charming?

Stephen Fry, iTunes Live London Festival 09

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the iTunes Festival in London, Camden at the Round House. As Stephen Fry pointed out as he came on stage, “It is indeed a house, and it is round, a round house”. The evening started off with a talk by Stephen Fry digressing into the history of print, history of recorded sound, revealed truths and copyright. In a digital age where it is almost easier, in some respects, to “illegally” download content such as film or music, the subject of copyright was going to be a big subject to embark upon. We must remember that the iTunes Festival is paid by the monopoly made possible by the creation of copyright, a legacy made feasible by the Berne Convention. So it was shocking to ostensibly hear Stephen Fry launch an attack upon the nature of copyright protection. For more information regarding the copyright aspects of his talk I recommend reading BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones’s blog.

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During the talk Stephen Fry also spoke about the nature of online communication. What many could call the ePR approach to promoting bands and artists. Internet communication was picked out as a broadcasting system but of an already present message. Although some would like to think that it is possible for a band to become known by a viral online marketing campaign, this still isn’t the case. Bands and Artists become known for the gigs they do at small venues. From this there might be an online campaign to follow suit but the internet campaign becomes second in the grand scheme.

Although this is a very small blog article I do think it holds a profound message.  Does or should online promotion always come second in a campaign plan? How does the balance work between real world and online communication?

PR Students mingle with the Stars

Originally published April 2009 in The University of Gloucestershire outreach newsletter.

National and local press turned up in their droves as co-writer and star of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg, received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Gloucestershire.

There is a lot more to university than just burying your head in books, the experiences that come with studying at Higher Education can be priceless. Where else would you have the opportunity of hosting your own radio show? Writing articles for a newspaper? And meeting celebrity Honorary Fellows?

Thanks to an opportunity on my Public Relations course I was fortunate enough to attend and observe the frenzied and exciting experience of a press conference with Simon Pegg, following his acceptance of an Honorary Fellowship from the university. Best known for his comic appearances in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Run Fat Boy Run, locally born Pegg, formally of Brockworth School, was recognised for his contribution to the arts as an actor, writer, comedian, producer and director.

Seeing a celebrity in person is quite different compared to reading about them in column inches or watching a film. Simon Pegg was just a normal person, brilliant at what he does, but normal. Where he entered the room full of journalists, photographers and public relations students, dressed in his graduation gown, he seemed to blend in with the crowd. This soon changed with the onslaught of questions, video interviews and photo calls; we observed firsthand the rush of the paparazzi as they clambered to get that killer shot. Later Simon was photographed with our public relations group, and being surrounded by university students he clearly began to relax again.

The press conference was exciting and particularly relevant to my degree. Degrees are important but most jobs also require candidates to have experience of the working world. Studying Public Relations certainly requires a balance between theoretical knowledge and hands on experience. The University of Gloucestershire has been excellent so far, providing me with opportunities for work experience, last year I worked at a local business; Montpellier Marketing Communications giving me the chance to put to use some of the theory I had been learning during my first semester.

University has proved to be an ideal step forward for me, at the University of Gloucestershire I feel I have the chance to become somebody, preparing myself for entry into a competitive industry and giving me the tools to stand out from other applicants. I feel attending university has been a privilege and I am grateful for the opportunities it has given to me and the achievements I will continue to make.

Is Print Dead?

Ladies and gentlemen. As always thank you for downloading and listening to this podcast and indeed both past episodes as well. This episode comes with a bit of a twist. To honour the focus we are to make to content, free content, on the internet this podcast will be avaliable in the .ogg vorbis file format as well as the conventional .mp3 format. For those of you who are listening, rather than reading this podcast, a link has been provided on the blog to the .ogg vorbis website. A file format which is patent free but undoubtaly should be the future of audio.

For those of you who are regular visitors to the blog you may have noticed the design change. This will be coupled with new features such as the ability to track down all my social networking activity by selecting “Social Stream”. I have had very flattering feedback from a couple of people requesting that they receive email updates when new content has been uploaded to the website. Unfortunately I don’t really have enough time to do this personally (as much as I would love to). Over the next few weeks though an optional registration system will be put in place to give you this option. Of course, you can always subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.

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An inky squirt

The topic of discussion we are to delve into today is really a cliché. It has been one of those questions which had always lurked around generation y like an inky dark cloud without any silver lining.

Is print dead?

Perhaps the profound question behind this concentration is simply asking a question about the future of content. Content which drives people to earn their money so that they in turn may use their money to purchase content. Print is really just a physical form of content which can be found on the internet. Of course it must be realised that the majority of the content which can be found on the internet doesn’t cost anything, not even an old American dime. Whereas the cost of print sells information.

Please forgive me as I stray into this next, currently unknown, tangent. In the slightly more geeky corners of the internet we have an open source movement which, in its fundamental form, is against any commercially created entity. Open source in programming terms means that a program’s code is officially owned by no one… One can’t help but notice the company or individual who created the program in the first place but once created you can change/adapt the code anyway you like and pass the program on as your own. This movement can typically be found within the Linux Operating System circles of which a small part of my life I was part of. This began with the joys of Simply Mepis Linux and then I saw the Gnome side and moved to Ubuntu Linux. (For those of you perplexed to what Gnome might be, or even KDE, then a link has been provided on the blog). The point of this movement is that it is seen as pure. A program has been created by normal guys, not seeking after profit but for the joys of technology. Incidentally Linux has arguably been at the forefront of ideas when it comes to how a user interacts with their operating system of choice. Opensource generally proves itself by showing…

Free is Good

Perhaps not all the time. The point of this tangent is that the vast majority of information on the internet is free and very good. Why go out and buy a newspaper when I could just access the BBC News website? Even use Google or Yahoo news to view a cosmic amount of reports, available completely free online. At the very sad news of Michael Jackson’s death or at least speculated death I was sat in the pub with a couple of friends carefully navigating through messages on Twitter referring to various news reports concerning the event. The timing of Jackson’s sad death had meant the papers were unable to piece a news headline together for the next day. To my knowledge only The Sun managed to get a headline out in time, by what I assume must have been a quick re-print. This is one of known downfalls of print media, it takes time. Time is something which frankly have no time for these days. Publishing an article on the internet takes a fraction of a second, a far more efficient method than printing thousands of newspapers. The internet pretty much guarantees up-to-date information whereas a newspaper is already out of date once it has been purchased. If it wasn’t for the crossword or useful culture sections of a newspaper then I would find it difficult ever even considering spending my hard earned cash on newspapers. Older people shouldn’t be surprised when my generation admit to not reading the papers. Often students could be blamed with being out of touch with current events but really the lack of reading newspapers may mean a much more current knowledge than the person who spends on papers. I might not be completely correct there but I hope you get what I am trying to say.

Papers are now second best. There is a new kid on the block who wields the power of news far more efficiently, freely and interactively. Don’t write a letter, submit a comment. Don’t wait for the newspaper for the news, read it online. Don’t buy the news, it is now un-necessary to do so.

But wait just one second. All of that just seems too simple.

Death of online media?

So the current track record of newspaper doesn’t seem too pleasing. We are struggling to find a purpose for this almost antique method of dispersing news but what is happening on the digital side?

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Technorati released its “State of the Blogosphere 2008” report examining the predicted 188.9 million audience of the internet and found that, in the US, blogs have a captured audience of 77.7 million visitors. An increasing difficulty has been found with which sites qualify as blogs or mainstream websites. This has had small effects on how the word “blog” should be defined. The report also indicates that the blogosphere is still developing, which may partly be why a definition is difficult to find. Blogs have proved worthy to the media ecosystem as many feature in top 10 lists with regards to topics. It has also been noticed that the average blogger has been posting for three years. This seems accurate as I have been posting for just over 2 years (on different blogs mind you).

Although Technorati’s report seems to suggest a very healthy blogging environment this does not seem to be the case with some other studies. It has been observed that whilst a large number of blogs are being created the majority of them are not being maintained. A name I urge you to remember is a gentleman called David Sifry who takes the widely known Technorati report and generates another concerned with the broader range of social media on the internet. This is commonly known as “The State of the Live Web” report.

The blogging medium has been observed to still be in growth, still maturing. Over 120,000 blogs are being created everyday (with only a slight dip during Christmas) which roughly means a one blog is being created each second of every day. A fairly crazy thought really. Blogs are on the increase and so is their place with regards to how they are approached compared to the mainstream media. More blogs have entered the top 100 most popular websites on the internet.

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I could keep travelling deeper and deeper into the analytical details of the blogosphere but I will leave that to your own choosing. I have provided links on my blog referring to the sources I have used.

The problem in the blogging world begins when we look at how many blogs are being maintained regularly. Statistics have revealed that 60% – 80% percent of all blogs are abandoned within one month. This has meant that the “average blog” has the lifespan of a fruit fly. The result means that almost 3 million blogs are only updated every couple of months or have been completely abandoned.

Twitter

So now we cast our eye over Twitter. “Oh no, not Twitter again. Can’t people stop going on about bloody Twitter? Why are you such a twazzock?” I know, I know. The only reason I am looking at Twitter with regards to online/digital media is that it has formed a very surprising backbone between blogs and other social networking websites. I believe this will only increase the possibility of Google Wave taking the throne in the future. After all, Nicholas Carr said that, “Twitter is the telegraph system of Web 2.0”. (Web 2.0 can now be found in the dictionary)

Unfortunately, despite all the hype Twitter has received, 10% of Twitter users provide 90% of the content. The majority of users who have joined Twitter have only tweeted once. I know this is true for my Dad. The reason for this has been put down quite simply to “Twitter is only a broadcast medium”. To an extent this is true for users do broadcast their messages containing happenings, ideas, links and opinions. What is really meant by Twitter being a broadcast medium is that it does not allow for the friendly communication a network like Facebook might allow. If you would like to know more about this then feel free to read my last blog entry “Twittercide”.

I know from speaking with others that many can’t be bothered to maintain another social networking website, don’t understand what Twitter is all about and even if they did would find it difficult to write anything interesting. These are a few of the, more personal problems, Twitter encounters with being a network. Twitter certainly is not made for everybody.

Just an observation

What I did there was really just quickly skim over some of the details concerning the social web. I don’t have nearly enough time, key strokes or breath to delve into every nook and cranny of social media. However I hope the quick look at Blogging and Twitter has been useful.

Back to print!

I could have made you think that I have in fact forgotten what the title of today’s podcast/article is all about. The question has been put forward about ‘Is Print Dead?’ and I intent to answer it… eventually.

Rupert Murdoch has revealed that he believes the business model for newspapers is malfunctioning. Quite right. It can’t be said that newspapers are standing still waiting for their supposed demise. There have been small changes over the years, I believe the most recent ones to be the most interesting.

Recently newspapers have been shifting towards a smaller size, in 2003 The Independent started to produce a tabloid sized edition. The Times has followed in a similar manner along with The Guardian which has produced a mid-sized paper between broadsheet and tabloid, known as Berliner. The reduction in size has increased the sales of newspapers but arguably temporarily. Sales of newspapers have been decreasing since 2004 and there is no reason to suggest why this should stop unless something radical is done about it. I am sure Rupert Murdock would be inclined to agree with me on this point. We have had the radical press, now the press needs a radical change. A change far more radical than providing pictures of partially nude women in newspapers to make some quick sales. Internet news sites can achieve high readership levels without the need of boobs ‘n’ bits, why can’t newspapers? Because ultimately, a newspaper is a product which has to be actively picked up on the shelf, a desirable need to spend for content.

Content, content, content again. There are possibly dozens of reasons to why there is a decline of newspaper sales. Admittedly I can only think of a few. Notably how advertising has declined in an economy which has been bled dry by debt. My local Guardian newspaper for Sutton (locally known as slutton) had to stop trading for a few weeks because of a lack of advertising revenue. This has been a fairly widespread phenomenon for locally distributed newspapers. As the United Kingdom is a small island local newspapers aren’t as prominent compared to a large land masses such as America. The problems with the advertising industry, the large costs for promotion has created problems for funding printed publications across the board; Newspapers and magazines alike. Subscription seems like the only real alternative to avoid the problems the advertising industry is facing (May I add that PR is still in growth? Fantastic)

A view I have held for a while and only recently come to light within the media is the advent of a digital subscription to newspapers. What if you could download a newspaper to your eBook reader and have a digital copy of your newspaper sent to it every day. I guess the proposed view is why not just view a news website on your PDA? This is just the problem, there are a minefield of problems for the future of printed media. Perhaps the balance will be found with premium content? Of course the real challenge comes from the BBC which will seemingly provide content completely free due to the license fee. The BBC does give value for money and big corporations cannot compete with this.

So is the problem really with the print media or instead with the whole industry of news? How are journalists meant to make their money? The structure of content on the internet is fairly simple as I explained earlier, it should be free… but should it? One of my dreams would be to be a journalist but people still need to earn their living. The industry is certainly in trouble, no doubt about it. Regrettably I don’t really have the answers. As the philosopher Daniel Dennet wrote in his book “Breaking the Spell” the real task of philosophy is to find the right question to ask, not to find the answers. I believe we together, reader/listener, have come to a profound moment in our discussion, our muse.

The question really in our discussion is how is news meant to make money in the digital age? The answer to this question will, in my view, will answer our question ‘Is Print Dead?’  To purchase a newspaper is a public convenience. We cannot pretend to ignore the growth of free newspapers within the United Kingdom. If any of you have visited London (or indeed any other city recently) you will know that free newspapers are everywhere. In central London there will almost be a newspaper man giving away papers for free around every corner. In a tube stations every few yards lies a free newspaper pick up point. If you have failed to find a newspaper on the pavements, under the city, then you will mostly certainly find an abandoned free newspaper on the train. On the whole, these newspapers are fantastic reads and causes the consumer to ask further questions about newspapers. Newspapers might be a commodity but are they really worth the money we spend? After all, we can now easily get newspapers for free. I would rather save the money.

Save that money and journalists unfortunately lose their jobs. Some journalists aren’t able to find another job back into journalism, some make the move into Public Relations and others, who were lucky enough to keep working, are most passionate to see the journalism industry survive and evolve with the times. A blog I highly recommend reading is by a lady called Gina Chen, especially her post, “What newspapers can learn from sewing machine companies”.

Is this the end?

A joke is always made about conclusions. How it is needless and unnecessary to read or listen to the bulk of an article when you could just skip to the conclusion. In conclusion I must admit that I do not yet have a full opinion about the state of print media. We have to remember that print media, in regards to books, still works. eBook readers have been disappointing sales and have shown that even in a digital age paper can still serve a purpose. Newspapers on the other hand are dying, not quite dead, but getting there. This could be said for the whole trade of journalism, the trade of opinion. To buy opinion when you can view and write it on the internet is harmful of the trade. Something needs to be done to fix the journalism industry, which is another article altogether…

And if I ever have an idea about the business model needed to save the newspaper industry then don’t go searching for it on my blog. Such an idea would be too precious, too important, to give away for free.

I hope you have enjoyed reading/listening to this article and until next time.

Good bye x