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The biggest British invasion since the Beatles is transforming our news 11/29/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in BritishInvasion.

The BeatlesThis week at Pajamas Media I note that as Old Media news outlets scramble to respond to new online competition, they may be overlooking a more dangerous new threat coming from the Old World. For the first time since the Beatles, there is a British invasion, and while the last one transformed our music, this one may transform our news. London newspapers have been using a business practice perfected in America — market segmentation — to give news audiences something they want that American journalists refuse to give them — openly-admitted, full-throated political bias from left to right. Oh, did I mention the naughty pictures? Read more at Pajamas Media.


1. frankwolftown - 11/30/07

If this is true then I might just drop Journalism as my major here in college.

2. Steve Boriss - 11/30/07

Frankwolftown, Well, Ted Koppel once said “Journalism schools are an absolute and total waste of time.” If you feel your studies are unlikely to lead to a job, do not prepare you for the future of news, and may in fact be teaching you knowledge and attitudes that will put you at a disadvantage, you might want to consider switching majors. If you love to write, I’d suggest becoming an expert in an area you enjoy where there is a sufficiently sized audience, taking English classes, and starting a blog as soon as you possibly can.

3. Ydobon - 11/30/07

frankwolftown wrote, “If this is true then I might just drop Journalism as my major here in college.

Which part of the article leads you to that decision?

Not that journalism seems to be a wise career choice in the USA today.

From Bob Norman’s “The Daily Pulp” we have Newspapers Free Fall (Illustrated).

McClatchy’s on deathwatch.

In a rising stock market, too.

While total time spent online is up 24% , McClatchy’s online revenue has fallen 4%.

Final note on the economy, from American Journalism Review, Oct/Nov 2007, Newspapers are paying the price for shortsighted thinking.

[Emphasis was in the original.]

Newspapers’ performance hasn’t been this bad since the 2001 recession, when revenue slipped nearly 6 percent and profit was down more than 26 percent. And this year the nation is not in a recession. But the newspaper industry surely is, and it is worthwhile examining why.

4. Ydobon - 11/30/07

Steve Boriss wrote, “Oh, did I mention the naughty pictures?

It’s too late for Page 3 girls to save newspapers, even tabloids.

5. franwkolftown - 11/30/07

I can’t seem to understand how openly biased news will improve anything. People seem pissed off enough as it is where does this help? It’s like the article recently published here that Yellow Journalism is a good thing. Can someone tell me what I;m missing here.

6. Ydobon - 11/30/07

frankwolftown wrote, “I can’t seem to understand how openly biased news will improve anything.

The honesty will be a breath of fresh air after decades of toxic hidden agendas.

People seem pissed off enough as it is.

No amount of open bias will be half as infuriating as CNN’s sandbagging the Republicans at their “debate.”

Even The Manchester Union Leader has called CNN’s dishonest bias “bad journalism.”

CNN’s subsequent stonewalling is enraging.

Where does this help?

Open bias offers the change to engage in an honest manner.

Otherwise people are forced to resort to gotcha games, like Don Surber’s “Name that Party.”

It’s like the article recently published here that Yellow Journalism is a good thing. Can someone tell me what I’m missing here?


7. Steve Boriss - 12/1/07

Franwkolftown, Great question. Thomas Jefferson believed in a country in which freedom was preserved by a multitude of voices competing in a freewheeling marketplace of ideas. He particularly liked the process of “attack and defense,” which in a letter to George Washington he supported by claiming that “Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth whether in religion, law, or politics.” Debating and arguing is very American, a way to preserve our individual rights. Now compare that to what we have now…mainstream media that in fact is giving us a monolithic partisan position — center-left — while claiming it to be “truth” and denying others with opposing views the dignity of acknowledging there are other reasonable alternative positions. In my mind, that is the main reason why people are so “pissed off” now. It is out of frustration. We will all have the satisfaction of expressing our views, and greater tolerance for others’ views, in a world of free expression. Who can deny that this is what the First Amendment is all about?

8. Pedestrian Scribbler - 12/2/07

I used to be a great fan of British newspapers, but over the past decade I have seen them go from well-written and challenging to predictable and bland. Maybe that’s just what happens when you realize that British papers are stuck in ever-shrinking niches, believing that salvation lies in more and more ‘dumbing down’.

Ironically, these days the British press lacks the very features it used to be known for: intelligent irreverence. Now it’s just mud-slinging from the sidelines, power without responsibility, gutter-sniping at the easiest possible targets. It has also become one of the worst environments for journalists to work in, with executives creaming off ever larger percentages of the turnover, doling out bonuses to their favorite editors and columnists, and leaving real journalists to work ridiculous shifts that would send any right-minded person with a family to look after scurrying for a well-paid PR job.

America’s news landscape isn’t all blue skies and roses, but at least there’s a sense of duty towards the reader, a notional attachment to ethics, and an appreciation of good writing. All of this has been lost in Britain in recent years, and I doubt we’re going to see it come back any time soon.

9. Steve Boriss - 12/2/07

Pedestrian Scribbler, “Dumbing down” is one of many processes that can be expected as content is tailored to a particular audience. One would expect to see big differences between, for instance, the Financial Times and The Sun because of who they are trying to attract. One would also expect this process to drive out many who got into the field thinking that it was only about writing for the “respectable public.” Old Media in America is now held in low esteem precisely because it does not have a sense of duty to the reader as a customer who has needs. Instead it has a duty to Modern Journalism principles that have never and can never work, such as objectivity and reliable methods of verification. In America, news consumers are getting what journalists want, not what consumers want.

10. Pedestrian Scribbler - 12/2/07


I’m writing here as a consumer of newspapers, and I can honestly say that there is no newspaper in Britain that meets my ‘demand’. Why? Because they all write about the same rubbish, with varying degrees of superficiality. What I want out of a newspaper is honesty, reliability and thoroughness. You won’t find those three attributes in any of the main papers, save perhaps for the FT, because the coked-up, champagne-happy politgroupies that make up the editor and executive caste have given up on the idea that readers want quality so instead they hurl ever more lowbrow amounts of regurgitated drivel at them in the hope that some of it will appeal. The Observer, the Times, the Guardian – hell, even the Telegraph – used to give readers something more than they could have got from reading a combination of Teletext and Cosmopolitan. Sadly, those days have passed.

As a customer ‘who has needs’ I am crying out for someone to launch a serious newspaper in Britain. 40 pages – no stupid ads, no oversized pictures, no celebrity gossip, no mothering advice. I’ll pay 1.50 pound a pop for the privilege. You’d think there would be a market. In fact, there is. It’s called Private Eye. Turn that into a daily and you’ll have a killer newspaper.

11. Steve Boriss - 12/2/07

Pedestrian Scribbler, Well then, you picked a good time to be alive. Patience, my friend. This is why God invented the Internet.

12. British Invasion 2.0 - 12/3/07

[…] 12/2] Steve Boriss picks up on this theme at the Future of News also using a pic of the Beatles – but his from Segeant Pepper’s. Is SB making some clever […]

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