The Register nails it with Cyburbia Interview

A great read over at The Register is Andrew Orlowski‘s interview with James Harkin, who has brought out a new book called Cyburbia (website for book here). It’s a refreshing and sober look at not only web2.0 but the people behind it.

The interview is full of great quotes – and there’s a piece of the book adapted here – but the one salient point that stuck out for me was this:

Large media companies are laying off good, seasoned journalists at the same time as they’re paying these internet gurus huge sums of money to talk rubbish about the medium.
It would be a shame if we abandoned seasoned journalists who are capable of researching and breaking stories, and capable of doing more than just simply going on Google, in favour of people who are simply obsessed with the medium. That’s the danger.

I know I can be as guilty as anyone for overhyping web2.0 – and I stand by my claim that if a large gathering of people is using a digital form then PR and marketing people have to be using it too – but this book looks to be a fantastic read – and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it, if for no other reason than something a lot of the tech crowd forgets – only by challenging your assumptions and beliefs can you actually improve your arguments and reasoning.

At least one Scottish newspaper is still hiring but you would never guess which one…

Check this out. The Digger, a little-known paper outside the Scottish West Coast (here’s the wiki). It covers courts, reveals a lot of crime stories – and more often than not, it’s a damn good read. Never dull.

And now it’s hiring and it’s not a bad salary – up to £26,000, which is a really decent wage for Scottish journalism. Of course, crime reporting always comes with extra risks, but I’m really (pleasantly) surprised at the salary with that positions. Shows you how well at least one publication is doing, providing unique and original content.

Digger on YouTube

Reporters v PR row hits Twitter and #journchat

The incredibly popular journalism/PR/other meedja types #journchat has had a suggestion put forward to it by a moderator-wannabe. Journalism student Ethan Klapper is proposing that #journchat kicks out the PR types and becomes reporter only.

Now, it’s a sweet idea, but there’s a few flaws in it: he misses the point that #journchat was set up to encourage dialogue between journalists and PRs, to be a place where they could learn from each other, so to suddenly exclude one side of the conversation seems distinctly anti-social in an age of social media.

Also – and I know he’s speaking from an American perspective where the unemployment shit in journalism has really yet to hit the fan – he’s very dismissive of what PRs do and offer (in other words: he should be listening more, instead of dismissing) and is actually burning bridges with people he may need to be nice to in years to come because as the cuts hit badly, US reporters will discover what already know: sometimes you just have to deal with PRs.

He also moans about the chat going so fast that he couldn’t keep up, to which I can only say: welcome to your future. Yes, the chat goes quick, but the challenge to you then is to have content – something to say or tweet in this case – that’s so compelling, everyone else has to stop their chat to talk with you. That’s the same in any field of journalism – what you write or say has to be the best, has to be better than what everyone else is writing about . No one enjoys the amount of stuff they have to juggle these days, but you have to try. And you always have to shout loudest and have the best lines in the competitive crowd.

Ethan’s comments remind me of someone who spent more than 15 years in what is regarded as one of the most competitive markets in the world before moving over to PR (helluva good looking guy too). Ethan has a lot of energy about him, I hope he learns how to channel it, he could make a hell of a journalist – which would be good for him and the PR industry.

(and yes, I know, still haven’t got #mediachat running this side of the Atlantic…)

How iPods – and the users – change vol.1

I’ve just had to turf recorded songs off my iPod to make way for podcasts and downloadable, fresh, content. It’s strange to be realising that I’m throwing out the familiar (and normally more than welcome) for a bunch of stuff which – despite the fact it should be good as I picked it – is an unknown quantity.

Never thought I’d see the day, but I suppose it comes back to what we are always saying when it comes to updates websites, blogs and so on: people want fresh content and regularly.

Of course you could argue that by not listening to Podcasts quickly enough I’m hardly doing the regularly part 🙂

Why Twitter matters in PR and marketing – and we all get to be like Superman

Supes
Twitter’s a quicker way of doing it Supes

The Register has a piece about why Twitter is fairly useless – and I’m a fan of El Reg but also a fan of the tweet – so who’s right?

Actually both. Twitter has many flaws – you won’t learn information unless hooked up to the right people, signal to noise ratio can be high at times – but it is also incredibly fun. It’s a great quick way of sending info and is a quick way of sending info out there (you then just have to hope that others retweet it far and wide – and tht’s hoping people see your tweet in the first place)

I like it though. Ever seen that moment in Superman Returns where Supes is above the atmosphere and just absorbing everything, filtering the sounds, spectrums and wavelengths? That’s what Twitter lets you do – except without the superpowers sadly.

But there’s one sector that it matter to: the PR and marketing sectors and for once it’s not because PRs and marketeers like to drone on about things covered in the press, it’s for something that many of them don’t like – it’s raw public opinion being sent out across the globe.

Under Twitter it’s easy enough for someone to post “Mmmm. Brewdog Paradox Smokehead. An imperial stout that’s been matured in Islay whisky casks. Smoky whisky taste complements the beer nicely” or “Been playing with the Blackberry Storm. Shockingly bad. I mean embarrassingly awful. Such a disappointment. Rushed out unfinished. What a pity”

And that makes a lot of PRs/marketeers edgy because there’s no way of controlling the message/making it all look positive. I love it because I think the honesty is the way to go on it and you can deal with comments and issues as they appear – of course that’s if you start from the sensible consensus that not everyone will love your product.

So why does it matter to the PRs/marketeers? Quite simply this: wherever there is a gathering of opinion – online or via smoke signals – then they have to monitor it to see what people are saying about clients or products. If they aren’t monitoring it while it’s used by a large subsection of the population, then they aren’t doing their job properly.

Miss Scotland sends a Valentine – to a dead man?

PR is a rather surreal game at times. There I was in the DADA offices yesterday, when current Miss Scotland Stephanie Willemse shouts out to me “Craig, how does this look” and opens her coat to reveal an interesting (and incredibly sexy) outfit

Steph was doing a job for the National Trust for Scotland to promote the fundraising for the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (the same one we were fundraising for via Twitter in Jan 2009). Anyway Steph got into the spirit of things – aided and abetted by DADA’s talented Breea McGinness and the Trust’s Amy Gunn – and put on a I Heart Burns t-shirt and minikilt. What can I say, I thought it was a perfect outfit, but judge for yourself and click for larger versions)…

And say what you want, but Robert Burns must have had some pulling power to be getting Valentine’s Day card from Miss Scotland – more than 200 years after he died.

Stephanie Willemse

It’s Twestival Time!

It’s time for Twitterers to show what a social and good natured bunch they are tonight with the Twestivals taking place across the globe, with the noble aim of raising funds for Charity:Water, helping to provide drinking water to those who need it most.

Anyway, I’m absolutely delighted that companies I work with have been so keen to get involved with it. Whyte and Mackay stepped right up and have offered the Edinburgh Twestival two tickets for the F1 Grandstand at Silverstone later this year – worth around £500 each (nice one Rob Bruce!)- while BrewDog have put forward beer and beer discounts for the Edinburgh and London events and Twitter’s very own Robert Burns @ayrshirebard has offered to send someone a free Burns email valentine.

No doubt the whole world + dog is sick of people pontificating about social media and how incredible Twitter is at the moment (Bobbie Johnson nailed that one) so all that’s left to say is that I hope it’s a blazing success, glad to see the All Tweet Journal covered it and all going well, I should be along at the Edinburgh bash tonight, so hopefully see some people there. (and if the weather’s terrible, I’ll head over to the Glasgow one instead)

In the meantime, Edinburgh host for tonight Ewan Spence has been grabbing people to do a ‘pass the water round the world’ style video, so I thought I’d get into the spirit of things with a little Burns…and you can see via Ewan’s plea here.

Quick update

Things have been hellish quiet here since the Robert Burns Twitter fundraiser. Basically BlueHost borked the site and if it hadn’t been for the wonderful talents of Gavin Montague I’d still be down.
Anyway, in the middle of all the chaos, I found another theme that I like better than this but it’s going to take a few weeks to do properly so until then, we’re with this.

And it hasn’t been a dull time. As well as working on the above first UK charity twitter fundraiser, I’ve been involved in setting up some stuff for EdTwestival – and looking forward to that on Thursday – playing with Google Latitude (works lovely on a N95) and setting up some exciting stuff that I can’t talk about at the moment. Needless to say, the next few weeks won’t be dull.

From next week, hopefully we’ll be able to get the often-promised UK media chats up and running on Twitter and there will be Podcasts kicking about here. Time to up a gear methinks.

Twitter gets its own newspaper – the All Tweet Journal RT

So the mass-media newspaper indutry is dying is it? Tell that to James McIvor of Scooped. Not content with setting up a successful mock front page business – Scooped/Making the News (an idea that 99% of subs said ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ when they heard about it) and being a sports author, he’s gone and created a newspaper for Twitter, which launches this week.

He’s put a link up to a page one dummy and it’s a fantastic concept. I always joked about people doing a newspaper for World of Warcraft and having reporters run about there, but this is great – another one of those concepts that has people going ‘wish I’d thought of that‘.

The best bit (and this is where James’ skills as a Chief Sub-editor at the Scottish Sun paid off) is the title: The All Tweet Journal (say it loud if you don’t get the pun…)

I think this is a great example of someone using their traditional media skills, appying them online with a bit of flair and imagination (he’s been on Twitter for a while) and finding new marketplaces – something all the doom and gloomers might want to think about…

(and yes, the RT in the title is me being geeky. Give me a break, been a long weekend)

Robert Burns Twitter fundraising nearly done

I could go off Twitter after last weekend. More later, but thanks to all who took part – either linking in to www.twitter.com/ayrshirebard or donating via the link below or just retweeting the message. Gratefully appreciated. NOTE: the link will stay active most of Tuesday if anyone wants to make a late donation (I’ll be too busy elsewhere to sort out closing it down).

And, despite the exhaustion, it’s nice to do something as a UK first and be the first UK PR person (and PR company) to carry out a charity fundraiser via twitter. Many lessons learned in case there’s a next time… (and it’s gotten me, sorry Burns, an invite to go to the Edinburgh Twestival (http://twitter.com/EdTwestival – links playing up) – time to think up Ode to a Tweet

Anyway, busy with clients today – as usual – so will refresh the site tonight, but just wanted to say thanks to all.

Help preserve Scottish poet Robert Burns’ legacy – Give just $2

It’s the cheapest birthday present ever! As I’ve mentioned online and below, we’re fundraising via Twitter for the new National Trust for Scotland Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. I’ll also be posting lines of Burns regularly via his Twitter account at www.twitter.com/ayrshirebard. For anyone writing about Burns until Tuesday, feel free to use the hashtags #burns. I’m also using #burnspoem when I post a line from Burns.

Feel free to spread this far and wide – here’s a tiny URL for this post: http://tiny.cc/6dV1U.

As this post shows, Burns has touched nearly everyone on the planet, so surely $2 isn’t too much to help ensure Burns legacy is remembered for another 50 years.

Any company which donates a minimum of $100 will get a free press release sent to their relevant media – global, local and national – as well as a thank you via Twitter.

HOW TO GIVE:
If you have a Twitter account, all you have to do is add your details below and hit ‘Give and Tweet’. It will then prompt you for your PayPal account details – and that’s you, done! You can give more than $2 if you want, that’s just a suggested minimum.

If you don’t have a Twitter account, but would still like to donate via PayPal, all you have to do is send a payment – it doesn’t have to be $2 – to burnstwitter@nts.org.uk

If you don’t have a Twitter or Paypal account, follow the instructions downpage here. If you don’t have accounts and don’t want to set them up, but still want to donate, you can discuss donations by telephoning the Development Department on 0844 493 2113 during regular office hours or by email to development@nts.org.uk.

Acceptance of donations will close at 9am Tuesday morning UK/GMT time.

Why Twitter/web2.0 users should fundraise for Robert Burns

(Press release about this is here.)

Imagine a world where no one compares love to a red, red rose; a world where no one joins hands on December 31 and toasts Auld Lang Syne; a world where no one gathers on January 25 to celebrate a haggis: imagine a world without Robert Burns.

Born in Scotland, the work of Burns has touched nearly everyone in the world in the 250 years since his birth. It was Burns who prompted Abraham Lincoln (who is such an inspiration to Barack Obama) to say “I cannot frame a toast to Burns. I can say nothing worthy of his generous heart and transcendent genius. Thinking of what he has said, I cannot say anything worth saying.”

If there had been no Burns, what would John Steinbeck have called “of mice and men”?, What poet would be taught to Russian children?

Burns was one of the finest communicators of the 18th century and now the 21st century communicators have a chance to show their appreciation via Twitter.

This year of the Homecoming in Scotland sees the National Trust for Scotland begin work on a £21million museum – the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum – but £4million is still needed to fully realise the project.

This site isn’t asking for £4million from you, it is merely looking for a couple of units of currency – a buck for burns, put on a pound, a ruble for Rabbie – or whatever you feel comfortable donating.
And who knows, if enough is raised via online, perhaps part of the museum will be named after Twitter…

The aim here is to show the generosity of the web2.0 community – people who understand the benefit of good communication. To that end, the fundraising is being carried out via Twitter, Tipjoy and PayPal.

If you don’t have a Twitter account, then follow the simple steps below.
If you do have a Twitter account, all you have to do is enter your details and click ‘give & tweet’. After that it will take you to your PayPal account.
If you don’t have or don’t want to use PayPal, there are other ways to donate and they will be mentioned at the bottom.

WHAT IS TWITTER/SETTING UP A TWITTER ACCOUNT
Twitter is the new online communications tool taking the world by storm, as seen by articles all over the mainstream press.
Setting up a Twitter account is easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Go to www.twitter.com
  • Enter a name and password
  • Then enter some names of people you would like to follow. For example:

Robert Burns – www.twitter.com/ayrshirebard
Andy Murray – http://twitter.com/andy_murray
Stephen Fry – http://twitter.com/stephenfry

    SETTING UP A PAYPAL ACCOUNT
    Go to the startup page and don’t forget a bank, credit or debit card – it should take just a few minutes.

    ALTERNATIVE METHOD OF DONATION
    You can discuss donations by telephoning the Development Department on 0844 493 2113 during regular office hours or by email to development@nts.org.uk.

    FAQ

    What do I get for donating?
    Every time someone tweets a donation, a line of Burns poetry will be posted at www.twitter.com/ayrshirebard with a thanks to the specific donor. There’s just over 100,000 lines of Burns poetry – wouldn’t it be great if we could get through them all? You will also get a mention on the blogroll at Burnstwitter.

    Why is it in dollars?
    That couldn’t be helped unfortunately, it’s a system of the fundraising mechanic.

    Who is holding the money?
    The money is held by Tipjoy and then will be passed on to the National Trust for Scotland.

    Why are you doing this and why is the fundraising through this site and a free WordPress page?
    The plan was to set up on a free WordPress page for basic details, with the rest of the details being driven through Twitter and other online. However, free WordPress pages cannot host the Tipjoy widgets hosted here, so it had to be hosted here.

    Why not use the National Trust for Scotland site? This came together at the last minute and this was the best option.

    But why are you doing this?
    As the About page here shows – and a quick Google search will verify – I work for DADA who are involved with the National Trust for Scotland over the new museum. Also, if you look, the address for queries on this is an official Trust email address.

    It seems a bit suspicious
    If you have any doubts, please don’t donate. Instead contact the Trust next week and arrange for an individual donation.

    Do I have to donate just $2
    No, you can give as much as you want. $2 just seemed like a fair sum. If you want do donate $250 for the 250th anniversary, then feel free 🙂

    When is this running until?
    Until Monday night, midnight GMT.

    Why Twitter?
    I’m a keen Tweeter (@craigmcgill) and I’m behind Burns on Twitter too (@ayrshirebard), so it seemed like a good fit.

    I’d like some more details
    There’s a full press release here.

    I have a query that isn’t answered here
    Then please email: burnstwitter@nts.org.uk.

    When Twitter meets Robert Burns

    Exciting one this…just been given the go-ahead to spend the weekend seeing if Twitter can work as a fundraising mechanism for Robert Burns and the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (what? If it’s good enough for Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross and Andy Murray, it’s good enough for Burns – and besides he’s been on Twitter for months at @ayrshirebard)

    Now I’ve written regularly about how I think Twitter can be used to promote events and organisations, so this is a case of the proof is in the pudding – and no doubt I’ll be picking the brains of Sarah Evans to see if I’ve missed any tricks.

    It continues what has been a very Burns-intense day for me as earlier on I was involved with Tunnock’s (of the Teacakes and Florida Oranges fame) and that involved coming up with a few Burns/Tunnock’s poetry mashups:

    Address to a Snowball

    Fair fa’ coconut sprinkled face,

    Great chieftain o the teacake-race!

    Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,

    mallow, choc, or cream:

    Weel are ye wordy of a grace

    As lang’s my arm.

    Ode to a Teacake

    Wee, mallow, rounded, choccy biccy,

    O, what a panic’s in my tummy!

    One needs tae eat ye hasty

    Wi bickering brattle!

    I wad be laith to rin oot of thee,

    An hae to eat a tattie.

    Anyway, for those wanting to follow the fundraising adventures, set your twitter accounts to follow @craigmcgill and @ayrshirebard and the fun begins at noon on Saturday (following the 25th across the globe)

    (if you’re still trying to work out all this Twitter stuff, here’s a great starting Twitter guide courtesy of Dubber and Clutch – and those are good guys to follow on Twitter as well.

    And now, the obligatory press release….

    NATIONAL TRUST FOR SCOTLAND MEDIA RELEASE

    23 January 2009

    Burns Museum benefits from UK’s first fundraising by Twitter

    Twitter – the massively popular online service used by the likes of Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross and Andy Murray – is to be used as the UK’s first fundraiser for the National Trust for Scotland’s new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

    Twitter has been used as a fundraising mechanism in the US, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, but this is believed to be the first time it has been used in the UK.

    The Twitter fundraising push will run over the weekend, when the world is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the bard’s birth, and end on Monday evening.

    Robert Burns is already on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ayrshirebard where lines from his poetry are posted daily, and it is through this Twitter account that the fundraising works and updates will be announced. Regular Tweets reach out to Twitter’s global audience.

    The Trust is still looking to raise £4 million for the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, with £17 million having already been raised.

    Trust Development Manager for Corporate Relationships David McKinnon said:

    “Twitter has been used for a number of charities across the globe and it seemed like a natural fit for this weekend.

    “Burns was one of Scotland’s most consummate communicators and as can be seen on his Twitter site, his work translates well into Tweets.

    “We don’t know how successful this first try at fundraising through Twitter will be – it’s never been tried in the UK before, but it’s just one of the new and innovative fundraising approaches the Trust is taking to help raise the funds we need to deliver our exciting vision for the new museum.”

    The new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is set to become one of the UK’s most prestigious and historically rich visitor destinations. This world-class attraction is the largest project the National Trust for Scotland has ever undertaken and will epitomize Scotland’s proud heritage, paying homage to the nation’s most heroic son – Robert Burns.

    National Trust for Scotland Chairman Shonaig Macpherson said on Burns being on Twitter:

    “Using Twitter to send out the works of Burns is an incredibly inexpensive and fun way of doing that. I’m sure Burns himself would approve because he was, at heart, one of our finest communicators.”

    Twitter works by people going to www.twitter.com and signing up for the free service. Users then have the option of finding friends or organisations online and receiving messages sent to them via the Twitter website, instant messenger, handheld devices like the iPhone or other mobile phones.

    At Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said: “Twitter is a new way for people to communicate. The National Trust for Scotland has discovered a creative way to spread the works of Robert Burns and we’re flattered to be associated with such a pioneering figure.”

    The fundraising can be followed at www.twitter.com/ayrshirebard.

    Ends

    Issued by DADA on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland.

    For further information please contact:

    Craig McGill craig.mcgill@dada.co.uk / 0141 222 2266/ 07703 175 151

    Breea McGinness breea.mcginness@dada.co.uk/ 0141 222 2266/

    Notes to editors

    1. The Trust’s Burns programme will be the largest, most ambitious project the charity has ever undertaken. It will cost in the region of £21m and this is made up of:

      • £5.8m Heritage Lottery Fund
      • £5.5m contribution from the Scottish Government
      • £250,000 from Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire
      • Land in Alloway with an estimated worth of £2.885m from South Ayrshire Council
      • Trust responsible for raising a total of £7m – approx £4m remaining.

    2. The Burns Monument Trust generously donated a series of important assets to the National Trust for Scotland, including the Burns Birthplace Cottage, an irreplaceable collection of artefacts and original manuscripts, and other assets including the iconic Burns monument.

    3. The new 1600m² museum building will provide space for the Burns collections, their interpretation and storage, as well as space for visitors and space for learning. The building will provide an exhibition area of 500m² compared to 120m² in the existing museum.

    4. Companies interested in fundraising or donating for the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum should contact Georgina Pearson – 0141-222-2266 or georgina.pearson@dada.co.uk.

    5. The National Trust for Scotland is one of Scotland’s leading conservation charities, which relies on the financial support of its members to fund its important work of caring for the natural and cultural heritage of Scotland for everyone to enjoy.

    6. You can join the National Trust for Scotland for as little as £5 per month for a family. To become a member, visit http://www.nts.org.uk/Join/Benefits/.

    Europe loves Twitter…but there are dangers

    Even from before my Twitter article for AllMediaScotland, I’ve been banging on (and on) (and on) about how handy Twitter is for keeping in touch with people, for PR purposes and for fun as well. And now it seems Twitter is the first trendy item of the year, after the report by Hitwise which states that it is overtaking Digg.

    While this delights me, I’m hoping we won’t see a rush of corporates and other types just signing up and filling it with rubbish. Hopefully they’ll take the time to see what makes the medium work and then get involved. Forbes has a good article as a starting point. (Econsultancy has a decent piece as well)

    (of course I just want people to sign up to my Robert Burns tweets)

    I wonder if this will see the Twestivals get a boost as well…

    New White House 2.0 site is good PR

    The White House website has had a makeover and a half with Barack Obama and the Democrat team coming on board. The layout is a lot more web2.0 and it will be interesting to see how the various pages – like the press pool page – are filled in over the coming months.

    For some it may be a little thing, for others it may be a stunt (for example, there’s already a debate going on about the robots.txt file) but it’s another symbol of change being brought in at all levels and another example of how the web is being recognised as an integral part of communicating with the public.

    For now, it’s fantastic PR – it not only shows a new approach to chatting with the public, it shows fresh thinking – and with the good design it shows that it’s thinking about the user.

    There is a downside to this though: you can just bet in the UK that most politicians will miss the point of what makes the site work and we’ll see a raft of poorly-thought out imitators.

    More proof that web2.0 can be great for business…

    A Sunday Times article on blogging your way into the big time is quite a good read – and not just because it mentions the ever-talented BrewDog and their Beer Rocks video beer campaign – because it shows how reaching out to bloggers and using social media tools like Twitter can boost your business. It’s a very good ‘how to’ intro to the area, complete with some decent warnings for people’s expectations.

    Newspapers don’t realise how good they have it

    I’ve been following AllMediaScotland’s comparion of editorial v advertising this week (here and here).

    One thing struck me quite quickly: for all people moan about the number of ads, newspapers are nowhere near the 60:40 rule of magazines (it’s often claimed that the most readers will tolerate in a publication is 40% of the page count as adverts with the other 60% being editorial. Hourlong US TV shows come in at around 70:30 just now).

    I wonder then if it may well be that one thing which helps prolong the press is more ads (though I would drop paper quality first – it is a disposable product after all) – once the prices come down to reflect the recession.

    I wonder how the readers will take it though…

    Newspapers need the fluff with the gruff

    Seth Goodin has written a really good post asking when newspapers are gone, what will you miss? In it, he goes through the list of what makes a paper and what we will actually miss. Now, that’s a totally subjective question, as what I’ll miss is different from you (and it’s going to be a while before print completely dies anyway) but where we see eye-to-eye is this:

    What’s left is local news, investigative journalism and intelligent coverage of national news. Perhaps 2% of the cost of a typical paper. I worry about the quality of a democracy when the the state government or the local government can do what it wants without intelligent coverage. I worry about the abuse of power when the only thing a corrupt official needs to worry about is the TV news. I worry about the quality of legislation when there isn’t a passionate, unbiased reporter there to explain it to us.
    … 
    The reality is that this sort of journalism is relatively cheap (compared to everything else the newspaper had to do in order to bring it to us.) Newspapers took two cents of journalism and wrapped in ninety-eight cents of overhead and distraction.

    Now he’s right – there is a lot of fluff in with the ‘proper’ journalism. This is something that drives every professional journalist absolutely nuts. I remember when I worked at various papers and you could have good hard news scoops, but what they wanted was tales about JK Rowling or Prince William.

    For years I questioned the wisdom of this, convinced that news editors were completely out of touch with their readerships (a charge that isn’t actually completely unfounded in my opinion) but there’s another way of looking at it: people may be reading the so-called fluff – but while they are reading that, their eyes will be attracted to other stories, more weighty tales thanks to the wonder of page layout (I’ve often believed that the designer of the newspaper page, complete with pics, nibs, downpage and uppage leads was every bit as important to education as Gutenberg).

    So it may well be that for the good, quality investigative journalism to continue, we need the balance of the mass-popular items – the celebs on diets, the sex scandals and so on.

    For a lot of reporters that may be an uncomfortable truth, but there’s another issue: if the mainstream press is vanishing, to be replaced by niche sites, how do we ensure people are getting quality, informed news and debate. Or is it elitist to try and think that people want news?