News Corp editorial director Campbell Reid reckons newspapers are yet to have their time, saying “the golden age of newspapers is a day in the future.”
He told B&T: “You can’t just say newspapers are going to be around as long as old people like reading them but currently my view is that the value and the importance of the ritual of the printed newspaper is actually becoming more authoritative in society, not less authoritative.”
He explained how when they broke the story with the pictures of Harley Bennell, Gold Coast Suns AFL player using drugs, the phrase that came up over and over again was ‘but it’s on the front page.’
“The fact that picture is on a permanently printed newspaper is a bold statement,” he added, explaining how we now live in a world of perpetual information, with people clicking, snacking and diving in and out of information all day, every day.
“It’s our challenge to meet their demands for information on whatever device, at whatever time of day and whatever mood they’re in.
“And if we can transfer the franchise or expand the franchise of journalism from newspaper companies to cope with everybody’s needs on whatever device they choose, that’s our challenge. As well as that, is the challenge of the newspaper companies themselves to understand the extraordinary purpose and ritual and role of the packaged, finished product.”
He goes on to explain how one of the areas newspapers have failed is pretending the printed newspaper is good at things it no longer is.
“In comparison to an iPhone,” he admitted, “a printed newspaper is not a very good mobile device, but in terms of a prioritized, curated, packaged product containing everything you need to know about what’s going on in your world, a newspaper is much better at that than an iPhone. We have to really embrace the specialness of them. If I post your picture on the internet, that’s kind of interesting. If I put it on the front page, that’s important.”
He explained that if you go back to that old adage ‘that every successful business makes someone’s life better’, a newspaper improves life by informing you, but also providing you with the commercial choices you can make today, either in terms of this food for the family tonight, or this house or this job, is an incredible package of value, “and I think the audience is ahead of us in understanding that value,” he added.
Reid also echoed the same view of The Newspaper Works CEO, Mark Hollands, who told B&T last week how newspaper readers are the only ones who really like advertising, due to on-screen ads being more intrusive.
“Sure, the hit in circulation is right there to be seen,” he said, “but if you think of the extraordinary capabilities of the digital revolution, and despite that, there is still that special connection with a printed newspaper, and most importantly, the special connection between a printed newspaper’s journalism and a printed newspaper’s advertisers both adding value to a consumer’s life in a unique way, newspaper readers are still the only consumers who really like advertising.”