Advertisers have got newspapers right where they want them, now they’re going in for the kill

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HSBC cover ad for Telegraph (pic: Nick Clapp)

This is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while, about the way advertising in newspapers is changing.

It’s no secret the industry is dependent on adverts. Newspapers especially rely on advertising for most of their revenue, and so have to bow to the pressures of the ad men.

This has become even more apparent in the last few years, as papers lose more and more money.

Amazing changes

However, something amazing happened recently which really showed how much things have changed. At least I think it was amazing.

The Daily Telegraph, the only British paper which has maintained a traditional broadsheet style, came with a cover advert. That’s right, a cover advert.

Why is this a big deal?

Control

Simply because it shows now how much control advertisers have over newspapers.

Clearly to carry out such a huge campaign (it was for HSBC) still would have cost an astronomical amount of money.

But a few years ago this would have been unimaginable. Now, it’s a reality.

Good and bad news

This brings with it good and bad news. The good news is that it clearly means advertisers are still willing to pay for newspaper ads, and see them as the main way to get their message across, so at least they won’t neglect the industry.

The bad news is, as papers have to make more and more money from advertisers and squeeze out every last penny, they will have bow down to pressures a lot more and resort to things like cover ads.

This is the kind of thing which could eventually destroy a newspapers reputable image.

Just look at last Friday’s Independent for another example.

Five ads over two pages of The Independent (pic: Nick Clapp)

Spread across pages 30 and 31 were no less than five ads. Five. That’s an incredible thing to see, especially over just two pages.

Short term solution

Newspapers are struggling to survive, so in the short term selling such large chunks of each paper seems like a good idea.

But if this trend continues and gets worse, then I fear it could eventually lead to our most respected publications becoming nothing but colourful picture books.

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So Murdoch’s News of the World ‘hacked’ phones. So what?

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Is there anything wrong with phone hacking? I have to say, I don’t think there is.

Let’s face it, this kind of thing has been going on for years. To say it’s only a tactic that’s been used by the News of the World is too naive.

Journalists come and go between newspapers all the time, and so do their methods of getting stories.

All newspapers

I would bet at one time or another, all newspapers have accessed voice mails and messages in this manner.

But what’s the problem? Journalists uphold standards of journalism, and journalism in turn upholds standards of democracy.

News has a crucial role in holding to account those who need to be held to account.

Yep, in the public interest

The defence of ‘in the public interest’ has been used many times, but that’s because it’s such an important one.

As a society we deserve to know what those in power and positions of responsibility are actually doing.

It’s through methods like this (though not directly) vital stories about MP’s expenses and injustices have come to light. Surely that’s benefited society?

If those people who are being ‘hacked’ have done nothing wrong, then they have nothing to fear.

Celeb double standards

But what about celebrities? Don’t they deserve better? Well arguably yes.

But they can’t have their cake and eat it.

If they truly want privacy, why are they staging shots for the paps and doing everything they can to stay in the public eye.

You can’t phone a photographer to tell them where you’ll be to get your picture on page three of the Daily Mirror one minute, and then be complain when they try to get your messages the next. Double standards?

Our conversations have been listened to for years by the government’s own hacks as they bring about a Big Brother state.

I’d say that’s more worrying than some millionaire actor or politician being rightly held to account.

Read more of Wordsmith:

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Friday’s newspapers: Independent’s Ivory Coast story breaks conventions and cash-strapped Cameron’s fly on Ryanair

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Whatever you say about The Independent, I don’t think anyone can deny that it often has great front-pages.

Today’s for example is striking, with a helicopter flying over the city of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, seemingly being fired at.

It doesn’t really follow the conventions.

 There are no celebs, no fancy graphics or over the top headlines. But for some reason it just works.

Brilliant

It’s brilliant front-page almost makes up for the fact the rest of the paper is full of black and white pictures, which still strikes me as strange.

There’s also an incredible story on page 11 of the paper, about a Swedish couple who went on a “catastrophic honeymoon tour”.

Understatement

Incredibly, their trip saw them go to Australia, South-east Asia and Japan. Erika Svanstrom says it “turned out to be a bit more than we bargained for.”

 That’s quite an understatement!

The Daily Telegraph has a great front-page story, about the government looking for a “Twitter tsar.”

‘Tough’ job

That’s right, someone is going to be paid £142,000 a year to send out “text messages” make initiatives “easy to understand”.

 Well, it’s a tough job…but someone’s got to do it.

The Telegraph, along with the Daily Mail, also has a fantastic picture of the Cameron’s in an airport departure lounge.

 But this isn’t first class, as you’d expect. This was with Ryanair.

 And as such, both David and wife Samantha look suitably fed up. Clearly the recession really has affected everyone.

Paying for Osborne’s petrol

The Daily Mirror has gone with a typical tory-bashing story for their splash, as apparently George Osborne “charges YOU for HIS petrol”, as they’ve put it.

Now, as much as it is bare faced cheek for him to claim petrol expenses, did we really expect anything different?

 At least it’s not a bloody duck pond! And let’s face it, if we were in a position to claim as much as this bunch of ‘politicians’ do, we probably would.

Read more of Wordsmith:

Rupert Murdoch’s media monopoly

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Today’s paper roundup: Mirror and Express hammer ‘hypocritical’ Nick Clegg and Sun leads witch hunt

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Newspapers just can’t get enough when it comes to reporting about James Bulger’s murderers Robert Thompson and Jon Venables.

Today’s copy of The Sun goes with a staggeringly large headline, saying “Bulger killer No2 Goes Abroad On Lads’ Holiday”.

Don’t get me wrong, those two criminals got what they deserved for their terrible actions. But, as far as we are aware, Robert Thompson has not reoffended since being given his new identity.

This means that now he is technically a ‘normal’ person, who you wouldn’t even notice if you walked past him on the street.

Witch hunt

So, does a story about him going on holiday warrant such coverage? I don’t really think so. But the media does love a witch hunt.

It seems the other ‘big’ story today is about Nick Clegg’s hypocritical stance on, as the Daily Mirror puts it, “internships for the rich”.

Flagging credibility

Arguably yes it is hypocritical. But then what did we expect? Regardless of what Clegg says it will continue.

At least he had the balls to suggest it was wrong, and something should be done about it.

But then again, is this just Clegg saying something which he hopes will boost his flagging credibility? After all, it wouldn’t be the first time…

What makes this story quite hilarious is the way it’s been covered though.

 The Mirror has gone with a lovely smug shot for their front-page, and then the obligatory toff picture for their page six story.

 The Daily Express has, amazingly, used the exact same pictures. It’s certainly odd to see two different papers, with totally opposite allegiances, use the same images.

It would be interesting to see how they’d cover it if it was Cameron, that’s for sure.

Read more of Wordsmith:

Rupert Murdoch’s media monopoly

Japan earthquake shows importance of rolling news

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Clarkson’s affair ‘exposed’ and NI bomb Libya link

British newspapers: Unethical and sensationalised? Yeah, but so what

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Papers

(Pic: by Nick Clapp, of newspapers)

It’s often said newspapers have no morals, ethics or sensitivity. People complain about them being biased, sensationalised and prejudiced.

To be honest, this is largely true. And I for one am glad that’s the case.

No responsibility

 The truth is, newspapers have no genuine responsibility to be ‘fair’ and ‘objective’.

This is because they are not public service organisations. Yes, papers play a part in maintaining democracy.

But don’t forget, they are organisations designed to make profits and money first and foremost.

This is why they are full of adverts and fight so hard to get noticed amongst the competition. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating papers lying or making up stories.

 I’m just saying it’s not right or fair to expect them to be impartial.

As journalism students, we are told ‘don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.’ It’s probably the best piece of advice I’ve heard so far.

You may think what I’m saying is pretty unethical. But why is it? There’s no shame in trying to sell newspapers.

Techniques

Headline puns, big pictures and shocking headlines are the best way to do this.

Would you want to read something written in plain, boring language? No, nobody would. It may be factually correct, but it wouldn’t be interesting.

Take for example today’s Daily Express. This isn’t a paper I normally read, and I’m not advocating views in it. But as an example, think about this headline.

“Scandal as millions wait longer to see their doctor.” Now, is it really a scandal?

“People waiting longer to see doctors” would probably be more accurate. But it’s nowhere near as interesting.

The truth is, if you don’t like the way certain papers act, ignore them. You could go your whole life without ever needing to read one.

Like it or not though, the techniques used by papers to intrigue readers and keep their interest are clever and fantastic.

After all, about one in every 12 people will buy one daily. That’s pretty impressive.

So even if you don’t like them, at least show them some respect.

Read more of Wordsmith:

Celeb Gossip: Why people love it

Rupert Murdoch’s media monopoly

Japan earthquake shows importance of rolling news

Matt Baker: David Cameron’s nemesis