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On this week’s episode of the podcast Peter explicitly said that young journalists don’t enter the industry to crank out ten stories a day based on single Instagram posts. I also asked if those same journalists were annoyed by management using them as a shield against any criticism of the publishers’ digital strategies. Now, as if by magic, journalism.co.uk has done a lengthy investigation into how those journalists feel when laid-off by local publishers looking to cut costs.
It’s upsetting reading: “A Reach journalist working for a South West title tells Journalism.co.uk: ‘I’m gutted and shocked because we’ve been doing so well, meeting targets and getting page views. ‘It’s demoralising. It really seems like we’re commodities, and it doesn’t matter how committed or able people are. Don’t tell me all 420 staff at risk of redundancy are not hard-working.'”
And that’s the crux of it. While Reach’s management (and the management of other local publishers) have to bear the brunt of criticism, ultimately the axe doesn’t fall onto their necks. There’s plenty more in the linked article, but it’s hard to look at statements like the one above and not think there’s something rotten about local journalism in the UK.
On a very old episode of the podcast I learned that the UK had not one but two contemporaneous magazines dedicated solely to carp. Well, perhaps that wasn’t such a fishy statistic after all: in the US, Bonnier LLC (publisher of Marlin magazine) is restructuring around enthusiast communities.
This one’s extremely relevant to my interview with Farrah Storr on this week’s podcast. She explained why the inbox is still a rarefied and valuable environment for publishers – and that’s an ethos that Infobae (great name) appears to be bringing to its own newsletters. And even when they’re not paid-for products, they’re still ridiculously valuable.
In short, efforts from governments alone aren’t going to solve the problems. We need a mix of short and long-term fixes which represent the real economic value of the transactions between publishers and platforms.
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