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Media: another one bites the dust

Richard North, 23/11/2012  


FTD 464-opd.jpg

Trust me on this one – there will be no weeping and gnashing of teeth in the streets of Bradford with the news that the Financial Times Germany (FTD) is to cease production, with the loss of 320 jobs.

However, despite the indifference of the denizens of my adoptive home town, this is a significant event – another milestone in the deline and fall of the newspaper industry which is happening on a global scale.

What makes this expecially interesting, though, is the analysis by Spiegel which hastens to assert that the entire blame cannot placed at the door of the internet.

Online advertising is an issue, with Google soaking up huge amounts of the advertising spend, but "this is only half the story". The decline of daily newspapers began long before the internet began to change the way we got our news. In 1991, total daily circulation in Germany was 27.3 million, in 1995 it was 25 million in 2012 it has dropped to 18.4 million.

Even allowing for the vagueness of the translation in Spiegel, though, I am not entirely clear as to what the author attributes the decline. Reading between the lines, one gets the impression that the publishers were offering a crap product which simply didn't change with the times.

Personally, I go with the "crap product" meme. Even after several years of not buying a print newspaper, I still miss not having a broadsheet in front of me for my morning reading over coffee – and now make do with a book.  But when I look at the newsstands, and flip through what is on offer, I shake my head in sadness and most often walk away empty-handed. What they have, I don't want to buy.

What shakes one the most, though, is the unchanging arrogance of the media claque. Despite being part of a failing industry, with their online comments filled with derision, they still believe themselves to be part of the élites which shape opinion and "make the weather".

Insofar as they are at one with that other failing industry – politics – they are partly right in their assumptions, but the reality is that politics and media are shoring each other up, while the rest of the world moves on without them.

Their arrogance, though – common to both industries – prevents them hearing the message. They will go on and on, unchanging. And, one by one, like the FTD, they will fall, without really understanding why.

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