Sunday, 6 May 2012

A start of a blog about one thing but a finish about another

So, I'm half way through writing another mega-blog "Succulent mince" about how Scottish Political Journalists have been taken in as comprehensively by one person as their Sports colleagues were taken in by somebody else. Pointing out that, at least, while the Sports journalists were actively misled, the politicos were simply too busy enjoying the hospitality to look at what had been handed to them, in individual copy, within the not exactly secret location of  the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle. And then distracted by Kevin Pringle suddenly announcing "Oh, look, Independence" while pointing out the window.

And, then what happens to the blog? Homeland starts (but, it turns out, does not entirely finish).

In the time inbetween, I've had a drink and maybe calmed down a bit, so the mega blog will have to wait to tomorrow (at least), together with my hopes of the Orwell Prize alongside @RangersTaxCase, or indeed my earlier ambition to be elected, by acclamation, as the one man who could yet return the Scottish Labour Party to its former greatness.

I will however return to the mega-blog. Here's hoping Alex Thomson doesn't re-appear in Scotland in the meantime.

My topic tonight is the death of newspapers.

I've fought, with a greater or lesser degree of enthusiasm, every election, local or national,  since February 1974. And at every election since, and until 5? years ago, the first thing I've done on emerging, not so much the next morning but, more correctly, later the same day, has been to go out and get a late edition of a national newspaper. In order that I might read the detailed results.

And then on the Saturday after the election I have bought the next days edition of (probably) the same newspaper in order to get the definitive results and the commentary upon them.

And then I've pored over them for the detail.

I still pour over the detail but, today, I don't buy the first newspaper for, whenever I wake up, it is much easier, and (by the way) cheaper to get the results online.

And as for commentary? Who wants (now) to read commentary on Saturday about an event that took place on Thursday.

But, readers protest, commentary on the internet lacks verification. And of course much of it does. I haven't checked but I wouldn't rule out that Newsnet are, even tonight, reporting that the SNP have taken power in Glasgow.

Except that we, the British, have the unique institution of the BBC. So, if we need to check what is true, we have access to an institutional source more trusted than even Wikipedia. And a source resourced, in the field of news at least, to be on the spot of anything that you would ever be likely to want to know. And not just resourced to report it but then able to report it instantly.

So where does that leave newspapers? They might yet have the ability to function in reporting "news" which the Beeb doesn't think of "news" at all (more or less where you will find most tabloids) or they might, just, have a function in communicating, in sympathetic terms, with those already aligned with their world view, essentially the survival strategy of the Telegraph and the Guardian.

But in Scotland? The fact that we have rival "serious" newspapers in Glasgow and Edinburgh flows originally from an age where it was far from possible to travel from one to the other in 45 Minutes. That gone, you could merge the two, except that by the time you had done so the advertising which within the last ten years provided a supplement to the Sunday editions of both will have entirely disappeared online.

And while the investigatory reporting of both has an undoubted value, that investigatory reporting could not, reasonably, be expected to appear each week. And the paper(s) cannot expect regular sales in occasional expectation of a meaningful such occurrence.

I'm, in the end, prompted to these rather melancholy thoughts by the fact that I did today read both of Scotland's serious papers. They both covered the local elections admirably. Quantity in one; quality in the other. But, in both, there was a distinctive air of a last hurrah. I will be astonished if either is still around too report the next local government elections in such a manner.

And then? It will be "All power to the BBC" who did, without the conscious intention of Newsnet, but as Kate Higgins discovered, inaccurately report the results for the best part of 24 hours.

But without an alternative? Jings, I'm beginning to sound like Rupert Murdoch.

No comments:

Post a Comment