Sunday, 12 September 2010

Future of the media: Newspaper sales in Ireland fall off a cliff

I've just returned from a fantastic driving holiday in the Republic of Ireland which, as you would expect, involved lots of driving.

The south west of Ireland was a place where I spent a fair few summer holidays as a child. I hadn't been there for some time and it hasn't changed a bit. Fantastic people, fantastic scenery and the Guinness really does taste better over there.

Anyway, as I was goin' over the Cork and Kerry mountains, I didn't meet a Captain Farrell but I did hear a fascinating debate on RTE1 about the future of newspapers in Ireland and the impact the web has had on the traditional media in the country.

Ok, it's not a subject of discussion we haven't heard before, but put together a subject I'm interested in with amazing scenery and perilous mountain roads, it all makes for a great drive.

The debate followed the publication of the ABC figures for newspaper sales for the first six months of this year in Ireland. Predictably they're not good, following the trend in Britain.

You can read Roy Greenslade's breakdown of the figures here.

So what words of wisdom did the execs from the various Irish national newspapers have for dealing with the decline?

Well, none really. They skirted around the subject of the web. Briefly argued over whether paywalls are good or bad - then concluded on a consensus that the future is probably going to see some web content sitting behind a wall while the rest is freely available.

There was lots of toing and froing about how much London-sourced content the major Irish nationals carry from their British-based parent titles.

All agreed that newspapers will have to tighten belts to secure a future. All agreed that locally sourced content was crucial to keep up standards. None answered how you can tighten belts while securing quality locally sourced material.

But the bulk of the debate was taken up by each newspaper's representative spinning the sales figures to suit their own ends.

It was the same old story - inkies having an inky debate, but missing the bigger picture.

Is it any wonder that newspaper sales are plunging faster than a driver over a Cork and Kerry cliff?

1 comment:

missy carruthers-wilson said...

As long as those floods don't wash the beer away- sounds like a great place to see or visit one day.