Online Journalism And The Sausage Ad Factory

Having been through the newspaper changes – thousands of redundancies, fewer pages, less news, dailies turning into weeklies, ad revenues plummeting – it’s obvious times have changed. In the early days of my journalism career if advertising rang upstairs with “a story” for inclusion we would wave them away. After all, it wasn’t proper news. These days newsdesks have linked arms with advertisers and are offering them valuable content space to keep what little advertising revenue there is rolling in. From regionals to nationals newspaper content is being dictated by advertisers who, rather depressingly, are calling the shots. SEO Book have hit the nail on the head with their comic strip depiction, Online Journalism and the Sausage Ad Factory. Newspapers, which once held the advertising monopoly are now competing with Google, Craigslist, Groupon and bloggers. According to SEO Book, newspaper ad sales have declined by 50 per cent since 2005. So what does this mean for journalism? It means newspapers are selling their souls to advertisers in order to survive. The reality of this Faustian pact is the decline of news reportage. “Democracies depend on a vibrant sustainable media” which brings issues to the fore and holds companies and individuals to task. The media is the link between the murky world of business, politics and crime and the public. Without them, stories like the Libor fixing scandal, the G4S security failure, MPs expenses, would cease to be brought to light. What then is to become of the guilty parties?

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