Well done, Joe. Go, Clare. Naff off, AA Gill

Two stories about gay people in the media have made the front pages of the national newspapers today – and demonstrate generational differences in writers’ (and editors’ and readers’) attitudes to out gay people.

The first revolved around BBC presenter Clare Balding, who via her Twitter account (@clarebalding1) has been documenting her correspondence with the Sunday Times over some particularly puerile comments by its television critic, AA Gill, and editor John Witherow’s condescending reply to her objections.

Continue reading “Well done, Joe. Go, Clare. Naff off, AA Gill”

Dixon: Cut too much, and you won’t sell anything

Breakingviews founder Mike Dixon, speaking to Chris Tryhorn in [The Guardian](http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/hugo-dixon-breakingviews-interview) _(via [Press Gazette](http://blogs.pressgazette.co.uk/wire/6057))_:

> The temptation if you’ve got to cut costs by 5 per cent is just to salami slice and everyone works a bit harder and quality just deteriorates a little bit more. What you end up with when you finally decide to put it behind a paywall is something that’s not good enough to persuade people to pay for.
>
> Media groups have got to focus much more clearly on what is their unique selling point – keep the investment there, possibly increase the investment there, and everything else, which may be necessary as part of a package, because a newspaper is a package, they don’t have to produce themselves, they can buy that in.

I’m not convinced by anybody’s arguments that paywalls are a viable way to make internet services pay, particularly if current qualities are anything to go by. Once you lock away your newspaper content from a public gaze, you then have to devote much more energy and resources into marketing that content in order to gain conversions to digital subscribers — and that will likely eat up most, if not all, of any revenues which a paywall may generate.

Concentrating on a USP is far more likely to generate increased returns.

Brevity is the soul of wit, and the bane of the feature writer

I wonder – does nobody buy Sunday papers any more because their contents are drivel, or can those papers only afford to commission drivel because nobody buys them?

Thankfully, the Independent on Sunday puts ‘editor-at-large’ Janet Street Porter’s column online, so we can read it for the cost of what it’s worth — approximately nothing.

I don’t suppose we can blame Street-Porter for the startlingly unoriginal headline, [Twitter ye not, for it will not change the world](http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/janet-street-porter/editoratlarge-twitter-ye-not-for-it-will-not-change-the-world-1772833.html). I mean, it only shows a healthy respect for the oeuvre of Frankie Howerd by the subeditors’ desk, albeit a respect that others [have shown before them](http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/22/wikipedia-internet). However, the resulting spew of words can only be put down to her.

It takes 730 words for Street-Porter to demonstrate that she has no idea what she’s talking about when it comes to internet messaging service [Twitter](http://twitter.com).

> If I want to know whether a show is worth going to at the Edinburgh Festival, or if Bonnie Prince Billy’s latest album is worth buying, I certainly don’t want a 140-character Twitter; I want an intelligent review written in real sentences, not some bastard lingo that’s the ugly love-child of texting and abbreviations.

We can do that. For the Fringe, _The Stage_ is providing notifications of each one of its 350+ reviews through the [@EdinburghStage](http://twitter.com/EdinburghStage) account. Each review is, as Street-Porter requires, intelligently written by one of our six full-time (or a couple of additional, part-time) festival reviewers. The Twitter notification consists of the name of the production, its location and a link to the full review. If there’s room, we also include a short summary of the review but nobody’s under any illusion that this is the review in its entirety.

> Interestingly, teenagers have already sussed Twitter is crap and aren’t taking it up. According to a Nielsen survey, only 16 per cent of the people twittering are under 25, while a whopping 64 per cent are between 25 and 54. The largest group of users are aged 35 to 49 – and that’s enough to deter the young. The use of social networking is already dropping among teenagers as the number of 25-34 year-olds using sites such as Facebook increases. In fact, ITV might have sold Friends Reunited in the nick of time, because at this rate the only people trying to meet up via websites like it will be so middle-aged, dreary and dull that no one will bother logging on.

This is the same Janet Street-Porter who, five years ago, was saying [Yah-boo to the youth cult](http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/janet-street-porter/editoratlarge-yah-boo-to-the-youth-cult-555138.html):

> For a long time now I’ve been writing that this country’s obsession with youth is ludicrous, when it’s the crumblies who have all the power, the disposable income and the ability to vote Labour in or out at the next election.

“Yes, this obsession with youth is disgraceful. Except when I can use it to justify whatever conclusion I’ve decided I need to come to in order to fill this week’s page of newsprint.”

Back to today’s article:

> Twitter panders to all that is shallow and narcissistic in our society, reducing lives and experiences (like childbirth and death) to missives that last even less than the average British male’s attempts at foreplay.

“You see what I did there? A pop at masculinity, by implying every man’s bad in bed, just to prove a point about a service I don’t really understand. What’s that you say? By doing so, I’m being as shallow as I imply Twitter is? The very idea!”

The closing sentiment of Street-Porter’s diatribe really takes the biscuit.

> It makes me angry that we’re so keen to stop talking in sentences, and are swapping having real conversations for knee-jerk reactions. If this is the future for politics, we’re in trouble.

Forgetting, of course, that Twitter is a conversational tool, whose _component elements_ are limited to 140 characters. Those elements can then be built upon to build greater conversations, either on Twitter or diverging off onto blogs, message boards or the real world.

The knee-jerk, of course, is the bread and butter of the newspaper columnist, as shown here. And in an environment where journalists are paid by the word, brevity is far from being the soul of wit: it becomes the enemy of the purse.

To paraphrase Street-Porter herself, if columnists like her are the future for print journalism, no wonder it’s in trouble.

Just Fancy That! Peter Wilby on quality newspaper prices

In today’s _Media Guardian_, [Peter Wilby writes on newspaper pricing](http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,,2165605,00.html):

> Last week, the Times went up from 65p to 70p. So that, you might say, is the end of the price war that Rupert Murdoch… launched 14 years ago in the “quality” sector when he cut the price of the paper by a third.
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> All the upmarket dailies (except the FT) now sell, Monday to Friday, at the same price. Or do they?

As with most journalism, when a question mark appears it can be followed straight away by a “no”. In Wilby’s case, he argues that papers offering subscription sales for lower than the cover price are offering a “price cut by another name”.

But there’s another reason why the answer is “no, all the upmarket dailies are _not_ at the same price”. It’s one that is closer to home, and outlined on page 2 of the main section:

> The price of the weekday Guardian raises by 10p to 80p today.

Oops!

_Readers of **Private Eye** magazine will recognise the **Just Fancy That!** feature as one that highlights a paper that can make two authoritative, but contradictory, statements in close proximity to one another._