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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Marooned in the past; halfway into the present; bemused by the future

It's no secret that the newspaper industry is in trouble. Advertising revenue is going down as fast as a well-paid call girl.

It's the internet what done it.

Now that everyone expects to get news and information free on line, why should they pay for a paper? Newspapers haven't been able to work out a new way to make money. Ruthless Rupe - smartest journalist on the planet - has sunk billions into buying internet "social networks" whose valuation is based not on profit, but on expectations.

(Does that sound a little reminiscent of the Great Dot Con, by the way?)

Every morning I get a copy of London's free paper Metro "delivered" to my computer. I am greeted by the sort of crass overclaim papers have been using since I started reading my parents' Daily Express in the '40s: "Welcome to your favourite newspaper".

What patronising, assumptive rubbish. The intellectual level of Metro - a reduced version of The Daily Mail with the best bits missed out - is so low that only a halfwit could make it their favourite (though it's miles more intelligent than the vapid pair of evening freesheets we get here.)

The thing most interesting about Metro online is the clunky technology. They haven't worked out a way of making it easy. They repeatedly ask me to register, though I've done so maybe twenty times, and the tortuous process of actually getting to read the whole paper is maddening. They haven't grasped that the key to online success is to make everything quick and easy.

Yesterday all the people in infoland were getting all fired up because someone commissioned a "typical teenager" to tell them about his reading, eating and browsing habits.

He revealed nothing new or surprising to anyone with teenage kids, but one question is this: can you think of any other circumstance in which intelligent, highly paid people would take a sample of one as a guide to what millions are doing?

A second question is, even if this particular youngster accurately represents all the others, what are you going to do about what you have learned?

I can tell you. You will have lots of pointless meetings and discussions, at considerable expense, with no practical conclusions.

Talking of which, did you know there is a Minister for Equality? What the fuck for?

Get rid of her - for it is the loathsome Harriet Harman - and send the money to the army.

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