Standing up for quality in the media revolution

The speed of change in media consumption amazes me almost as much as how some things remain the same. Guardian media identifies a “new generation” of affluent American “netnewsers” who are transforming media habits ( with a little help from marketing depts perhaps).

“The biennial Pew Research Center report on changing news audiences describes 13% of the US public as “net newsers” – affluent, youngish web users under 35 who read more political blogs than watch national news coverage, rely heavily on web-based news during the day and have a strong interest in technology and technology news.”

Good news to come for Slugger as Atlantic trends wash up on our shores? But what stays the same is hinted at in the same article.
“They do favour some traditional media brands, including the New Yorker, The Atlantic and the BBC, the Pew survey of 3,600 adults found. But only 47% watch TV news on an average day.

Serious magazines are selling better than ever, is the real nugget within this story. Stephen Glover in the Independent gives the figures and the explanation – quality.
“Remarkably, at a time when nearly all newspapers are losing sales, and celebrity and men’s magazines are reporting significant circulation losses, the cerebral weeklies and monthlies continue to grow. In the first half of this year the circulation of The Oldie climbed 15.5 per cent, to 28,862, compared with the same period last year. The Spectator rose 5.1 per cent, to 76,952; the UK sale of The Economist grew by 5.6 per cent year on year to 182,539. The Week was up 4.5 per cent, at 150,099, and Prospect’s circulation rose 10.7 per cent to 27,552.”

“To bang on too much about the internet as the distinguishing factor between newspapers and magazines seems to me rather dangerous. If weeklies and monthlies are putting on sales while so-called quality newspapers are losing them, it is partly because they are doing something better. When pundits said 30 years ago that Sunday colour supplements threatened the weeklies, they were right, as in those days such supplements carried articles that might be found in weeklies. That is hardly any longer true. Which of us now looks forward to picking up a Sunday supplement as one might have done 25 years ago?

UK media consumption patterns are similar to the US – overall, TV is still king despite all the internet hype- although trust in the BBC ( interest declared) has declined since the fake phone-in competition results scandals. The BBC s faces the usual contradictions in the public response. BBC1 is far and away the most popular TV channel ( 61%) but support for the compulsory licence fee is unsurprisingly declining.

Quote on the licence fee :

“Is it good value for money? Only 33% of those surveyed agreed that it was – and some 47% disagreed, with 28% disagreeing strongly. Does the licence fee ensure provision of programming not available elsewhere? Not according to a clear majority of those expressing a view – 41%. And perhaps most worrying of all: is it an appropriate way of funding the BBC? Only just over half of those polled and expressing a view thought it was.”

Content is key, provided you can find it, whether you still comb the shelves or browse the web or the EPG.

In the welter of media provision, the defenders of quality need to speak up – and pay up, at least sometimes. ( Note: I don’t need to tell you -online editions are much cheaper).

  • 6countyprod

    Hi Brian, you missed the best quote: Just 6% said the Huffington Post was very highly credible and 13% said the same of Google News, which aggregates news from mainstream news organisations.

    So this: “new generation” of affluent American does not trust liberal blogs and news gatherers. Interesting, indeed.

  • Mark McGregor


    I’d guess, if you asked Mick the ‘hits’ on Slugger may be following the decline of lads-mags like Nuts in the last year (could be wrong). The titillation factor of the last decade will soon be completely gone and we’ll have to see if the site can deal with covering a broadly mundane ‘parish-pump’ glorified council and still attract interest. When pushing Councillor’s crappy webpages and votes on the best public body is the editor’s focus we are heading for a slow and lingering death interrupted by the occasional glimpse of stocking crisis.

  • dewi

    Have to say that after 20 years subscription I still find the Economist excellent. It passes my test- every year or so it does an article on Welsh politics and gives an insight that I’d missed. Good approach to web also – if you subscribe you get the wonderful archives – the rest is free.

  • BfB

    So this: “new generation” of affluent American does not trust liberal blogs and news gatherers. Interesting, indeed.

    Another nail in Obie Wans’ coffin then?