How Twitter Killed the 3am Girls

Mags & Rags, Net | roomybonce | March 16, 2009 at 3:46 pm

This picture, more than anything, has convinced me that print media is dead. It was taken backstage at last Friday’s Comic Relief on Jonathan Ross’s cameraphone, from which it was then Twittered to the world, and confirms everything Stephen Fry ever said about Twitter’s ability to entirely bypass normal media channels.

What would it have taken to get this picture to the masses only ten years ago? A backstage photographer, a newspaper picture editor, a couple of subbers, and yet more editors - at least a dozen eyes and even more man hours - altogether costing thousands just to put onto paper and deliver to your door twelve hours later. This pic was sent instantly, to everyone, in the whole world, for nothing, and it’ll never be tainted by some corny subber’s caption. This comes straight from Ross’s thumb: “Chris Moyles and his Dad at Comic Relief!!”

Stephen Fry picks up the sorry story:

If people want to announce their new this or their new that, they’re going “I’m not going to do an interview, I’m not going to sit in the Dorchester for seven days having one interviewer after another come to me, I’m just going to Tweet it, and point them to my website and forget the press”.

And the press are already struggling enough - God knows they’ve already lost their grip on news to some extent. If they lose their grip on comment and gossip and being a free PR machine as well, they’re really in trouble.

So you’ll get an increasing number of commentators going “Aren’t you just fed up with Twitter? Oh, if Stephen Fry tells me what he’s having for breakfast one more time, I think I’ll vomit.”

They really will have a big go at it because it attacks them, it cuts them out.

That’s why newspapers are so depressed about their print sales, which seem to drop year on year - The Sun barely lost 2% in 2008, but The Indie lost 14% - and that’s why they’re all looking online for salvation. The Guardian site logged 30 million users this January, a testimony to its integrated newsroom blending online with print staff, and their focus is now shifting toward a ’pay-for-content’ model. Imagine people having to pay 1p per article, or a blanket £1 for a whole month’s access - that’s potentially millions of squids a month. I’m sure fans of, say, Oliver Holt, Jim Shelley or Charlie Brooker would pay 1p to keep them in a job in the same way they’ll pay for their favourite band’s music even though there are free alternatives. It’s loyalty. Factor in a £10 fee for a year’s pass and you’re not talking real big bucks, but, along with discreet advertising revenue, it would at least mean survival.

The problem with that is that such a model would have to be adopted multilaterally. The switch would have to be simultaneous across all news sites or those that stood alone in asking for payment would find themselves bereft of users within a fortnight. The subscription model would also have to change (iNews anyone?) Personally, I flit between news sources and the news sites themselves would have to reflect that by increasing their links between each other, allowing me to follow a story across networks to get a complete picture.

This would mean unparallelled co-operation between the news giants, but it might be the only way they’ll still be here in twenty years. It’ll certainly be the only way they’ll get pointless pix like this:

This is one of the ceilings in Jonathan Ross’s house. And yes, it is Luigi. Talk about a gaming geek with money to freakin’ burn.

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