Will Self uttered a word and a metaphor on Newsnight last week that said more than everything else I’ve read on the NOTW/Murdoch farrago. “This whole embroglio is epiphenomenal, evidence of the transition between print and electronic culture, between the two tectonic plates of different media”. Brilliant.
1. Newspapers have been squeezed by drops in circulation, as the young don’t read them (all online) and the old will die off.
2. Newspapers have been squeezed by drops in advertising revenues, it’s shifted online and not coming back.
3. Newspaper and traditional media groups no longer at top of food chain and can’t bully everyone, even politicians, as undermined by web – Wikileaks, social networking etc.
4. Old-school journalists had to start to pay for stories, pay policemen, private detectives, missing new online sources.
5. Old-school journalists trapped in tabloid, print culture and kow-tow to Middle England homophobic, xenophobic, benefit cheat, paedo-bashing, proprietor’s political line.
6. Failed to understand that emails are archived and deletion is not really ‘deletion’, so detectible evidence bites back.
7. Mobiles ubiquitous and easy to access voicemail (they were never’hacked’) through default PIN numbers (that’s what Glenn Mulcaire used).
8. Social media (Avaaz & 360) campaigns amplified OFCOM complaints so that BskyB decision cannot proceed.
There’s much schadenfreude in the rest of the print press about the loss of ‘tradition’, as if the demise of the NOTW were some sort of cultural disaster. I think not. The demise of the tabloids is inevitable as they’re not really newspapers but celebrity mags and rags. All of this is just a suface phenomenon. Actually, to take Will Self’s metaphor further, it’s merely a few volcanoes letting off some steam, while below the surface the real tectonic shift has happened. The print plate is being driven beneath the electronic plate and new virtual mountains being formed. These old media companies forgot that they are in the ‘news’, not the ‘newspaper’ business. That’s why Murdoch could easily sacrifice the tatty NOTW, the shift to electronic media and the web has happened.
Print journalists, the police and politicians have yet to waken up to the fact there's a new game in town and it's online. Stop hiring these old-school media directors like Coulson and Baldwin, they're poisonous and actually don't know how these new media work. It's like watching a bust-up in an old-folks home!