I've done an interview with Malcolm Starbrook in the latest edition of InPublishing. Malcolm started as a trainee on his local paper in the East End of London, went on to work for the Sun, edited the Milton Keynes Mirror, the Bury Free Press and the Croydon Advertiser and was on the Press Complaints Commission. He was editor / owner of the Milton Keynes Standard, worked in magazines for International Thomson, was chief sub of Press Gazette and ended up as group editor for Archant Essex and East London.
At a time of cutbacks in editorial staff in the regional and national press, I liked the way he argues more journalists are needed as newspapers face the challenge of the digital age and says it is still the journalism that matters.
Malcom says: “By love of, training in, and affection for… I am a newspaper hack: cut me and I bleed ink. So one of the biggest threats I feel facing the newspaper industry is our rush for web revenue without fully understanding what that is doing to the print business. Few of us have the power of the Daily Mail, Guardian or Bild to build significant audiences with little or no paywall. So we will always be playing catch up, and not very well at that."
He warns: “As revenues get slimmer, publishers will continue to try to run stripped down versions of their newspapers with a direct result on content. Increasingly, we seem to be in the business of curation rather than creation and the unique voice of the newspaper is lost in the competing and strident shouts emanating from the world wide web publishing the same stories, same photos and same tokenism approach to breaking news.
“We need web platforms that break stories and newspapers that explain and put that information into context. For that, we need more journalists not fewer. But then we struggle to convince people they need to value our journalism. The trend is for people not to pay for the news and information they can obtain though the web. However, as publishers, we need to continue to provide the news, views and information that impacts on people’s lives. By doing that, we will build the audience that our advertisers will want to interact with. It is still the journalism that matters and, internally, we need to support the importance of that basic function.”