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.

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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.

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Ruper Murdoch’s media monopoly: Fair or undemocratic?

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Debates have raged for a long time about how much power News Corporation’s owner Rupert Murdoch really has.

Some argue he doesn’t exert large amounts of control over the many parts of his media empire.

Then there are others who say his influence is profound. One such person, Brian MacArthur, worked under Murdoch for several years as an editor of The Times newspaper.

He said, in a recent guest lecture at the University of Central Lancashire, ‘The Sun Says’ section of The Sun is clearly “what Murdoch thinks.”

Opinion

It’s one thing to hear it from someone who has worked for the media tycoon. It’s quite another to hear it from the man himself.

In the above clip, Rupert Murdoch admits trying to “shape the agenda” of his news broadcasters.

Having said it himself, for whatever reason, it shows he’s willing to use his organisations for his own means.

This would probably shock many people. But should it?

After all, he is a businessman, first and foremost. He expects some kind of return on his investment.

As news providers (on the whole) don’t actually make lots of money, owners use them in other ways.

Of course, arguments against him using his own media monopoly to peddle personal views have validity.

Plurality

Someone who only watches Sky News or reads The Sun or The Times will get Murdoch’s own opinions shoved in their face.

However, we live in a country of media plurality, meaning it’s unlikely people will see news from just one source.

As long as the means is there to get a wide range of political views (which it is thanks to the range of newspapers and broadcasters) it means democracy functions effectively.

As bias is unavoidable (and objectivity can never be achieved), our media plurality is the next best thing.

Murdoch may control large swathes of the news industry. But as long we have access to a range of opinions across the spectrum, it doesn’t really matter.

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Katie Price, Charlie Sheen and celebs: Why people like reading gossip

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There has been a lot of talk recently about why so many people continue to read “news” stories about celebrities, like Katie Price (aka Jordan) religiously.

While I agree it seems strange at times, the answer is actually very simple: because we want to.

We want to read about Katie Price’s relationships with cross dressing cage fighters. And Charlie Sheen “banging seven gram rocks” (direct quote).

The general public, and consumers of news, love gossip and hearsay (not to be confused with the, erm, band).

Cheap

Newspapers discovered this a long time ago, and flogged this dead horse for all it’s worth. While the amount of articles published daily about celebs is extreme, don’t blame the media.

Blame society.

Journalists found out just how much readers loved rumours and scandal. This provided an almost magic formula for editors.

While nothing is guaranteed in news (which is why they’re now seemingly dying a death, but more on that later) this is as close to a cash cow as it gets.

This is because of several key factors.

Firstly, it’s cheap to produce. Think about it. When revenues are squeezed, you don’t want to pay for expensive investigatory journalism. You want something quick and easy to produce.

Which celeb news is. You don’t need many sources, many substantiated facts or a lot of copy. All you need is “a close friend” (whatever that really means) and a nice, big pic. Simple.

Saturation

Secondly, there’s a lot of it. There are more channels than ever. More mags. More bands. Which means more celebs.

So, there’s a constant stream of scandal, arguments and famous people collapsing out of nightclubs. It’s an all you can eat buffet.

Thirdly, it’s easy to read. Whoever you are, you know you’ve read celeb news at some point. From hairdressers to Oxford academics, we’ve all done it. Sad I know.

But it’s easy to consume, because it’s shiny, glossy, simply written and appeals to our bitchy side. Which we all have.

The formula is simple, and makes sense. So you see an article about Charlie Sheen’s meltdown or Katie Price’s new book, feel free to read it. Or ignore it. Just don’t complain.

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