It will come as no suprise to anyone who is familair with local press that The Barnet Press has been closed by Tindle newspapers. Six journalists will lose their job and the Times group will be the only borough wide local paper. Given that many people didn't receive the paper nd over the last few years it has got considerably thinner, some will say "so what?". For me it is a tragedy and also a classic example of a missed opportunity. The received wisdom is that "the internet" has done for local press. I believe that it is poor management and the failure to sot opportunities. The question which the press fails to answer is "why would people bother reading a paper when they can see the information on line". The answer is that they haven't really thought it through. Think about it. Every day we get leaflets through the door advertising Pizza's, window cleaners, ironing services etc. People obviously still feel that it worth putting things through the door. With a large delivery network, you'd think that the press could have made this work. Websites generate money through click throughs. On this site the adword advertising raises enough to pay for my internet subscription. Perhaps a scant reward for my hours of work, but it all helps. I do this as a very part time job. The Press had six journalists working full time. Clearly their management lacked the direction to use the paper and electronic editions to work together to produce a compelling product.
On this website, we have several features that draw lots of people to read the blog. Many people tell me that because this blog is the most frequently updated, they always read it first then click through if they see one of the other listed blogs has a new story. I am bemused that the local papers have never bothered to link to the Barnet bloggers on their website. Surely as they have several updates a day, this could be a great source of traffic for them. I am also bemused that they don't syndicate stories from us. They do occasionally nick them without accreditation, but that is actually quite rare. Another popular feature is "The Tweets of The week". This allows me to cover all manner of things which are well outside my norml domain. I'd have thought such a feature would be a complte no brainer.
They have also become very tame and boring in their coverage, especially of the council. It is no wonder that people have switched off when they ignore major stories such as the council meeting to discuss the terrible OFSTED report for Barnet childrens services.
It is one of the main business strategies of the press to combat falling sales with cost cutting, few pages and lower editorial quality. The mainstream press has given up on trying to get younger readers. The tabloids have largely simply become sounding boards for rich and often foreign owners rather odd views. The sad truth is that unless the press adapt and realise that cost cutting is not the way to reverse the trend, they will die.
Here is their final article
By the way, we are pleased to say that the Barnet Times took our hint and have printed an article about the OFSTED report council meeting in their paper edition today.