Nick Hasell’s article “Have faith: after a year of setbacks, I am a sadder but wiser man“, in The Times on Saturday, December 27, looked at the performance of the Tempus Ten, shares selected at the beginning of 2007 caught my eye because my employer Johnston Press Plc is given a kicking.
This year JP’s share price has dropped, dramatically, from a three to single figures.
Hasell’s article suggests it’s the journalists who don’t see the end of print and the rise of the internet.
As someone at the forefront of JP’s web operations in Sussex, I would say the problem is not with the majority in the newsrooms.
Embrace the web
There are many journalists across JP embracing the internet, because we know it’s the future.
Equally there are others who resist with every fibre of their being.
However, JP is moving forward and looking to the web, and taking its advertising platforms with it.
People have a great appetite for news and journalists possess the skills to source and interpret it for mass consumption.
Journalists will still be creating news for websites, as well as print.
Even though I consume a lot of news information through the web, from traditional news sources such as The Guardian, The Times, Telegraph, BBC etc, and specialist blogs, the serendipity of discovering something in print, which I wouldn’t necessarily read online, is what keeps newspaper important to me.
American journal Editor and Publisher published an interesting column by Ted Knutson “What I missed only getting news online” (the original is behind a paywall hence the Blogger link).
Ted’s right by pointing out the joy “of running across news I didn’t realize was there by leafing through all the pages of a newspaper instead of just looking at a handful of headlines on the home page of a newspaper’s web site”.
However, journalists and regular older readers will not keep a publication afloat forever.
Chase youth, keep old
Steve Outing’s interesting article, again in Editor and Publisher, “My ‘Crisis’ Advice to Newspaper Company CEOs: 11 Points to Ponder” gives the solid advice to focus on the traditional demographic for print, and to chase youth with web.
This is what we’re trying to do at the Worthing Herald series, which is probably why our print ABC is rising along with our eABC.
Sussex Newspapers, the JP division which includes the Worthing Herald series, was one of the company’s best performers in 2008, so we’re obviously doing the right thing, but need to continue to do so.
Resistance is futile
The difficult market conditions and the changes in newsroom structure under consultation at the moment will mean journalists will have to think about their commitment to the web.
In the days before Christmas one of my colleagues admitted to having no interest in learning how to put stories online, hence they didn’t retain the instructions in their memory.
Hasell’s point about the perception that print will die might be the kick resistant journalists need to learn before they become unemployable.