The demise of newspapers in the age of information
I exceeded theage.com.au’s paywall within 13 minutes of the first day of operation which now means that I’ve got a month to not be up to date with news beyond headlines (so as far as I’m concerned Cher is also dead), calculate how long I think lap band surgery would take on Gina Rinehart (I decided that to do so, it would require an initial 3 year feasibility study, geological-skin-fold exploration and then finally in the 5th year a consortium of doctors and medical professionals can start the mining Gina’s fat) and reflect on how redundant newspapers are becoming.
As newspapers desperately scramble to make money from the “digital boom” with their new (ie. 15 years too late) strategy of blocking me from procrastinating on their sites because “I’m not paying for the newspaper”, it makes me think that all this time they’ve been watching the increased direct content-to-user news websites and just held themselves tightly, rocked and said “don’t worry, this whole technology thing is going to pass, it’s not going to last, they’ll come back to buying large, feels-like-chalk paper….I know! We’ll change the size of the paper, then they’ll comeback”, then they turn the light off and continue to live under a large rock.
Despite clearly making themselves uncompetitive, The Age/SMH, The Australian and the AFR still insist on this strategy of making users pay for content you can get elsewhere for free (Note: I’d actually be happy to pay for the Herald/Daily Tele online content because as much as I’d love to say that a Facebook post about a 9-year-old’s apology to his little brother for pinching him in the nuts is news, I’d rather think it’s ‘light entertainment’). But the fact is, why would I pay for shit journalism from supposedly reputable newspapers who reference Twitter and Facebook as legitimate sources when I have Twitter and Facebook accounts and can get this information myself!?
Then of course there’s the whole reading the paper version of the newspaper. In fact, if you still read the newspaper, I’m guessing you also used to rock out at concerts at The Parthenon or you hieroglyphics are actually your first language. And if neither of those are you then you’re part of the ‘reading the newspaper is so old it’s actually hipster’ group….and no, that’s not a good thing.
Carrying around a newspaper, when you’re not also someone who should be in the British Museum, for me is just a method of branding. Rather than being content with the excellent commentary from Business Spectator on your phone (which admittedly verges on spamming), by carrying around the AFR, it’s meant to show the world that you’re engaged with corporate Australia – but the reality is that you’re probably just on the way to an interview or you only read ‘Street Talk’ which let’s face it is about as truthful as a Kim Kardashian promise to marry you.
Whilst most people on my tram seem to be reading an iBook on their phone as if they are reading some amazing book on leadership or management which they would read then go straight into work and implement because they’re a real go-getter…but really based on their uncomfortable movement from side to side, occasional side glances to check no one’s reading over their shoulder and wry smile they are clearly reading ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’…there’s always one suited-up toolbox (yep not just one tool but a full box of tools), with the AFR clutched on top of their Bally briefcase (you know because briefcases are not meant to be used to carry things like paper).This person is trying to be so obvious that they are up to date with the “latest” company news, that it makes me think that they’ve actually discovered a suburb called “Obvious”, built a brick house there, then knocked it down, taken a brick from said house and come back onto my tram to smack me over the face with the that brick and the fact that they work in the corporate sector. Plus who the fuck reads stock quotes from the newspaper? My only answer would be people who have a burning desire to test their eyesight every day or people who take the stock quotes page in the newspaper, put it up against a green light and pretend that they’re in the Matrix.
The fact is the opportunity to charge for online news content in Australia sailed about the same time the Melbourne Demons were last called a legitimate AFL team. Now behaviours have changed and if you’re going to make me pay to read your garbage journalism then I’ll just get my news from another source…you may have heard of it…it’s called ‘the in-ter-net’…and unlike a dying newspaper, in addition to providing me the news the internet can also simultaneously how me how to estimate skinfold density for my other urgent task.
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