Response to the Internet Manifesto and Five Phrases to Outlaw in the News Room

I WOULD agree with Alison Gow’s Five Phrases to Outlaw in Newsrooms – there is nothing here which anyone could really contest was not occurring, at least to some degree, in every newsroom across the country.

But with anything, change is not instantaneous. Anyone who is pioneering in their field, will be impatient with the stragglers who initially rebuff the changes; then they accept reluctantly they must change; and then begin to embrace the new ideas and methods.

Before this becomes a little too saccurine, however, and I proclaim, “Hang on now you eager beavers, let’s wait for the others to catch up”, let me throw something that seems to have been neglected into the arena.

One of the biggest topics of debate in journalism at the moment is how newspapers are going to move from a free-to-read to pay-to-read online content. Newspaper sales are declining and advertising revenues have suffered because of the economic crisis, and editors and newspaper owners have been forced to consider how to charge for the content they currently upload for the reader’s pleasure. ‘Don’t go out and buy our newspaper, because you can read it online for free!’

An announcement is widely expected from Mr Murdoch as to how News International will go about charging readers for the online content. I accept not all newspapers across the country are preoccupied with this issue, but it seems wrong to suggest that the “higher up the editorial food chain the internet might not be on their radar because the focus is on the money-making print product”. Surely, these words can be rearranged to suggest the focus of the high command is indeed on the internet because they have come to the conclusion (belatedly one might argue) they need to start making money from the internet, and not the print product.

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