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Newspapers, Don't Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Do we only follow the Ethical Code of Conduct when it is convenient for us?

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Written by on July 21, 2011

The media frenzy seems to have died down a bit from the absolute over exposure of the Murdoch scandal. Yesterday alone, the Guardian wrote 42 articles mentioning "News of the World."

Considering that 42 is supposed to be the answer to life, the universe, and everything, maybe the Guardian is trying to make a point. But, it is not news anymore. Ask any person if they want to read 42 articles, in a single day about a single topic, and they would look at you if you where some kind of alien.

One example is that many newspapers (not Guardian though) wrote articles reporting "Rupert Murdoch" had now arrived at the parliamentary hearing. That is not news. It would have been news if he hadn't arrived, if he had called in sick, or if he had said it wasn't worth his time.

Or what about this AP story, claiming that Murdoch had been mopped by photographers. But then when you read it, you find that it is just yet another link-bait article with 250 words + a picture. Not to mention that this whole scandal is about ethical standards, so being "mopped by other journalists" isn't helping, is it? Where are the ethical standards of these photographers?

Don't get me wrong. The whole thing is very newsworthy and should be covered. There are some very big players involved, and it questions the ethical standards of not just the people in power and the police, but more so that of one of the most powerful newspapers in Britain.

The media have turned this whole affair into a big brother show. It is interesting to watch. It generates a ton of page views, but the news value is almost nowhere to be found.

The newspapers are shooting themselves in the foot, and is likely to do it again sometime later this week. Here is why:

The news industry is facing four gigantic problems when trying to convince people to pay for news.

Abundance of sources

The first and biggest problem is the abundance of sources. You can't get people to pay for something if you can get elsewhere for free. You might be able to trick some of your older demographics who doesn't know better, but forget about trying to trick anyone else.

In a world of abundance, "more" is an inefficient strategy. It works in the short run, but it is like peeing in your pants. And everyone is doing it.

No relevance/value

Some of the most highly trafficked websites on the planet are sites that produce almost no value. Like "I Can Has Cheezburger", Demand Media and many more. They reduce the overall value to tiny packets of snacks that people enjoy when they want to switch off their brains.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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