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March 17, 2003

Media Moguls Take Note?

It's been very interesting reading the wisdom in the Guardian's interview with Malcolm Richards, the editor of the Richmond and Twickenham Times.

Here's paragraph 2:

"What I'm proudest of having done is being a true chronicler. If a jumbo jet crashed on Richmond Green, a cub reporter could write it, but to sort out a complicated local issue, for instance a story running now in the paper about public lavatories, it's not easy to cover that," says Richards. "You need much more skill as a journalist to keep getting the niceties out of that local story, to keep it fresh, to keep the debate going, to stimulate people to write letters, to make sure every aspect of the argument is put forward."

The BBC, and many other media organisations, seem to be moving further away from 'content' and more into 'community' - the job of connecting their audience to the organisation and to eachother.

If you need much more skill to get a local story going and get the audience talking about it, you do wonder whether they are underestimating the task, and the skillset ahead of them.

As has been widely covered, they are about to lose about 100 staff from the new media department. Lets hope the ones who are left are experts in speaking to the audience and stimulating debate, not just two silos - programmers, and content-monkeys.

There's another warning buried in there too:

We had to stand at the church door and take the names of everyone that came in. That sold newspapers. Everybody who went to that funeral wanted to see their name in the paper

That sort of thing just isn't seen as efficient in today's media landscape. But it does make you wonder if, without a financial return, 'community' as a way of inspiring 'loyalty' is just too damn expensive?

Posted by Tom Dolan at March 17, 2003 02:52 PM

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