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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Save The Free Press

As #SaveTheSunNewspaper trends on Twitter, an analysis of the sorry state of the British press should act as a wake-up call to our nation suggests Matthew Steeples

Yesterday, ‘Save The Sun Newspaper’ was all over Twitter. Those clicking the hashtag were not taken to a page bemoaning the fact that the Rupert Murdoch owned paper has lost £68 million in the last year alone, but to a Go Fund Me campaign that has raised over £16,500 that will be donated to the Essex Coronavirus Action Urgent Food Bank Appeal.

 

Set up by an Essex based food bank campaigner named Simon Harris, #SaveTheSunNewspaper garnered support because of the intense dislike for a newspaper that some claim is “not fit to wipe their arse with” whilst others (especially the people of Liverpool, a city where it is mostly banned due to their crass reporting of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster) condemn it for its “lies” and “bigoted” reporting.

 

Whilst the ‘fake’ hashtag was about helping foodbanks, on Sunday night, the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade highlighted a genuine problem for the British press. In an article titled: “Why our newspapers might not survive the contagion of coronavirus,” the media commentator observed: “It is the bleakest of ironies: the biggest news story in a lifetime is killing off the very industry that exists to report it. Coronavirus is destroying newsprint newspapers across Britain, delivering the coup de grace to businesses that were already in the process of dying.”

 

Whilst it has been for long known that traditional media has struggled to cope and find a way to exist and maintain revenue streams in a period where online and social media have battered it, coronavirus, it appears, will be the death knell for many a print newspaper.

 

Just like, for example, the restaurant sector, which will likely see many establishments fail to reopen once this pandemic is over due to them not having the resources to get their staff back and pay their rent and suppliers, many print newspapers – most especially local titles – will not weather the storm. As Greenslade points out, “it seems inconceivable that publishers, already struggling to fund journalism, will return to the previous status quo.” Going further, he remarks: “That’s because the status quo was, itself, one of perpetual fragility in which publishers were engaged in the delicate task of managing newsprint decline while, in parallel, seeking to create a digital journalism business model.”

 

Here comes an epoch of change and with newsrooms across Britain currently completely empty, publishers will indeed start to rationalise when so-called “normality” returns (in whatever form that takes). Expensive city centre offices will be shut and like cancer, profitless titles will most likely be permanently closed down. This will not be a loss that should be glorified and it will not be something that should celebrated; without good journalism, we’ll all be the poorer. Those thinking we can rely on the Twitterati for news are in for an era of the emperor’s new clothes and they’re in for a future where fake news will quite wrongly reign.

 

Facebook: @TheSteepleTimes

Instagram: @TheSteepleTimes

Twitter: @SteepleTimes and @M_Steeples

 

15 COMMENTS

  1. The media has been in decline for so long. We lost real investigative journalism long ago – the likes of Dominck Dunne and Bill Deedes were real newshounds. Now we have the Mail Online newsroom kids producing drivel about Kim Kardashian instead. They can’t even spell and the populous eat up the lies of the Mail Online and Sun as gospel. We have gotten what we deserve. We don’t pay for real news anymore, we therefore will suffer the fate we deserve – CRAP.

  2. I don’t read The Sun but I admit to reading The Mail. I know a lot of it is untrue but I keep going back for me. I’m afraid I’m as bad as anyone else. I wish somebody with the resources would fund a newspaper that tells REAL news in the way The Telegraph used to years ago (I cancelled my subscription three years ago as it was going the way of The Sun).

  3. Ethel is right – we need a new news source that is honest and has integrity. But who will pay for it? And will the public buy it? The Internet is a blessing and a curse in giving us free information – free information that is filled with a lot of lies. We’ll all end up like David Icke if we’re not careful.

  4. In my experience the newspapers are not helping themselves in the lockdown. I subscribe to Sunday Times vouchers but it has taken them almost a month to substitute digital access. I subscribed to the i offer at 99p but the login does not work and their advice was repeating how to log in. I bought the launch issue at 20p but have had to cancel my direct debit and have lost a month’s subscription and reading. If these papers cannot reward loyalty now they cannot expect it in the future.

    • A very good point Geoff. I found myself in a similar position with The Telegraph. I was given a subscription last year and once that that was up, renewing it was most difficult. After five phone calls (four of which didn’t even get to ‘humanoids’), I gave up. Their ‘premium’ model is more annoying than most – some articles free, some not. The Times on the other hand, with its entire paywall means I just don’t bother at all. I do miss the crossword but being locked-down in the country for now, I cannot get it as a print version at all.

  5. I would not miss The Sun if it went but Murdoch will not allow that. I would miss The Mirror – surprisingly very good in terms of investigating compared to others

  6. Is that a “drinks all round” offer from you Matthew? Unlikely to be possible since many pubs won’t reopen either. Ethel and me probably need a large print version of the crosswords and I don’t think that is going to happen.

    • I do miss The Times crossword. I used to do it daily at a bar in Chelsea. It seems so long ago.

      As for drinks, we’ll have plenty on the go once this is all over.

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