The Place Of The Internet
(The Future of Newspapers)

A mid-November editorial column now – yes, they do tend to pop up at odd times – sparked off by a feature in the UK newspaper The Independent.

The Ed. doesn’t get time to read a newspaper every day, but I like to keep up with otherthansportscar news whenever possible. I used to be a Daily Telegraph reader, but that paper’s politics and just plain stodginess finally led to the change, and I must admit to being very keen on The Independent.

Monday’s issue, November 13, included an eight page feature on the future of newspapers, and opinions were sought from a wide range of influential media types. Two opinions stood out – for very different reasons.

Andrew Marr is the BBC’s Political Editor, and a very astute observer of goings on in Westminster. This is some of what he had to say:

“Are newspapers doomed? Absolutely not. Although there’s an enormous amount of on-line news-related material, if you analyse it, very, very little is actually new fact, new information – it’s almost all parasitic journalism carried out either by broadcasters or newspapers.

“So you have an enormous, gabbling, opinionated commentariat which has sort of bubbled up over the last ten years, but what you have not got, obviously, is a new source of original, proper journalism, because that costs money and someone has to pay for it.

“Those newspapers that focus particularly on hard reporting will be the ones that survive because that’s the thing the internet cannot do. That’s the USP of newspapers.”

Parasitic journalism? To be perfectly honest, we at dsc do some of that – some of this Editorial for example. We ‘borrow’ items from other sources when necessary (with due credit of course), but then unlike a newspaper, we’re obliged to try and bring all the (sportscar) news to your screen.

Are we part of “an enormous, gabbling, opinionated commentariat which has sort of bubbled up over the last ten years”? Yes, we are – can’t argue with that. But I can argue with the point, in our little sportscar field, that “what you have not got, obviously, is a new source of original, proper journalism”.

The majority of the material you read on dailysportscar is original material – whether that’s race reports, interviews or whatever. All right, a good part of the news items are sourced from press releases – but others are entirely original, from our own sources, thanks to hours on the telephone. What we don’t do, as you know, is simply copy and paste: we leave that up to others.

And so we come to the views of the pointless Piers Morgan, former editor of the Daily Mirror.

“Every newspaper has a great future online. End of story. Within five years every newspaper will be free and they’ll all be online. And if they’re not, they should be. There will still be a presence in print but that will be for older readers and you will find that anybody under the age of 35 will only read newspapers online.”

Yes, thank you for those ridiculous thoughts, Piers Morgan. Sadly, he was named after a Piers of another type altogether: Piers Courage.

Piers Morgan was sacked from the Daily Mirror after it was revealed that the photographs the paper carried showing abuse of Iraqi prisoners were fakes.

Perhaps Morgan was right in one respect though: his former paper has seen sales slump by 5% in the past 12 months, while The SUN has slipped by 3.6% and The STAR by 6% - which is all good news really, isn’t it?

We’ll carry on into 2007 much as before, but with a new look – and we’ll be trying as hard as ever to bring you the news as quickly as possible, in-depth race reports as quickly as possible, plus more of the original material that you can find here (thanks to our wide range of correspondents).

First job in that vein is a day with James Weaver and Andy Wallace – tomorrow, November 16 - so it will be a quiet day at dailysportscar during regular, UK working hours on Thursday. But the original material coming out of that day should be the highlight of 2006 here.
Malcolm Cracknell

 

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