Wednesday 18 February 2009

Saving the press: Forget the small start-ups and give us some big ideas

As I did a straight report for Press Gazette here on the NUJ Left meeting last night, I thought I would go a bit bloggerish and give some personal impressions of the meeting.
First, I think both Roy Greenslade (who discusses the meeting here) and Nick Jones were good value, made sense and spoke with lots of passion about newspapers and the future of the media.
I am also impressed at the way the NUJ is trying to get to grips with the crisis engulfing newspapers and I realise new business models are required.
It's just the "solutions" I have a problem with.
I just don't see how small start-ups are ever going to have the financial or editorial clout of newspapers that have been around for a couple of hundred years, have a relatively large staff made up of a group of journalists with a variety of skills and experience.
I don't think that can be easily replaced by independent websites or bloggers.
One shaft of reality was injected into last night's debate by Tim Gopsill, the editor of The Journalist. Tim spoke about his experience of working on the Scottish Daily Express when it was run as a workers' co-operative. The paper eventually failed and fell into the hands of Robert Maxwell. His advice was "journalists cannot manage businesses."
Remember the News on Sunday anyone? It was another failure to create a Left-orientated paper controlled by the journalists.
I am sure there are lots of brilliant, dedicated journalists around full of good ideas but where are the commercial brains going to come from to manage this talent and earn enough cash to pay them and support their media ventures?
Everywhere I look editorial staff are getting smaller and smaller and so will NUJ membership. Rather than small start-ups, I left the meeting thinking we are still desperately in need of big ideas on how to survive the current crisis and give journalists a future.


Fin and Co said...

Hi Jon, I'm not finding you on Twitter. Are u jonslattery09?

Jon Slattery said...

No, I am jonslattery