Il futuro dei giornali. Cosa ci aspetta?
Da anni si sente dire che la carta stampata è destinata a scomparire ma, di fatto, non è ancora successo. E’ davvero questo il destino dei giornali? _Roberto Adriani_ ne ha parlato con il giornalista e esperto di media britannico, _Mark Tungate._
di Roberto Adriani
Siamo abituati a sentirci dire, da diversi anni, che i giornali di carta stanno morendo e che si trasformeranno tutti in versione elettronica per poter essere letti su tablet.
Ma è vero? È difficile dare una risposta perché la diffusione dei giornali è bassa ma ancora rilevante. Insomma, sembra che il morto non voglia morire.
Internet non ha completamente sostituito i giornali stampati, non ancora almeno, tuttavia ha offerto nuovi ed eccitanti modi per coprire le notizie e i lettori sono oggi abituati a condividerle, semplicemente con un click, attraverso i più comuni social network, Twitter in testa.
La piattaforma di micro blogging non ha mai realmente messo a rischio il giornalismo tradizionale. Viceversa ogni giornalista desidera oggi condividere il suo ultimo articolo via Twitter con i suoi lettori. Twitter è in effetti largamente utilizzato da giornalisti che scrivono sui quotidiani.
E così, alla fine, il futuro dei giornali di carta rimane ancora oscuro. Per questo motivo abbiamo sentito l’opinione Mark Tungate, giornalista britannico ed esperto di media.
In 2007 and 2008 Warren Buffet said newspapers were dying. BH Media Group, a division of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, has recently invested around 400 million Dollars buying papers across the US. Why did Buffet change opinion from your point of view?
A couple of reasons – and we’ll get on to Jeff Bezos later. But the first is that the wealthy can’t seem to resist the press. Newspapers still symbolize power and influence, after all, even in online form. But Buffet’s strategy is, as ever, smarter than that: he’s been buying very local newspapers based on the insight that they contain news their readers can’t get anywhere else. As a former local newspaper reporter and a keen reader of Le Parisien these days, I understand that need. I love the International Herald Tribune recently rebranded as the New York Times Global), but it doesn’t report from the underbelly of my town.
The tablet revolution has begun and it seems that all printed newspapers will be transformed into e-newspapers. On the other hand, news-stands still look full of printed newspapers, in Europe at least. Will printed newspapers disappear and it is only a matter of time?
Printed newspapers are surprisingly resilient, aren’t they? I think an older generation – and I include myself in that – finds newspapers practical, portable and easily disposable. They’re finite containers of everything you need to know that day. You could also argue that they’re more environmentally friendly. People talk about “the cloud”, which sounds fluffy and pure, but most of the information we consume is stored on giant energy-guzzling servers. Newspapers are made of paper from managed forests. Paper that is easily recyclable. I think there might be a rediscovery of the “craft” side of print, rather like the Slow Food movement. Print may soon become a luxury item. The same people who love newspapers may be the same as those who collect vinyl albums and tinker with analog cameras. A small audience, but a well-off and desirable one from an advertising point of view.
CNN has recently launched the Change the List project, which allows the audience to vote for the issues they care about most. Then CNN will report about the most voted stories. In the era of 2.0 the interaction
between audience and TV is really possible or, at the end, is the agenda setting still in the TV’s hands?
I think the TV landscape has become so fragmented that the power is definitely in the audience’s hands. But while listening to them is crucial for retaining viewers, there is, obviously, room for rigorous reporting of matters that would not have reached our attention otherwise. I remember seeing a column somewhere – I can’t remember where, and it may have been fictional – called “Things you didn’t know you wanted to know”. There’s a danger that at some point the media will assume their audience doesn’t like or understand complex political and economic stories. But where does that leave us? With royal babies and Lindsey Lohan? The media must play an educational role. And besides, when CNN say “the audience” will do the voting, who exactly do we mean? Who has the time to get involved in this? Who exactly will be setting the news agenda?
We cannot avoid to spend some words about the probably 2013 biggest news in the publishing world. What do you think about the acquisition of The Washington Post by Amazon?
I think it may be a good thing. Newspapers are having a hard time making a profit these days, but Jeff Bezos seems unlikely to care about that. Indeed, he may be the best person around to find a new model. The great unspoken truth of journalism is that it has always been paid for by advertising (with the exception of state-owned organs of course). If advertisers are migrating to other formats, perhaps today newspapers need owners who aren’t focused on making a fast buck, but on the art of putting together a fantastic product for a discerning readership. We may be returning to the days when newspapers were owned by wealthy individuals, rather than corporations. In the 19th century the French used to compare newspapers to “danseuses” – a rather sexist term for the dancers and actresses “kept” by wealthy businessmen. But there’s another old French expression too. Roughly translated, it goes: “There are three ways of losing money: women, gambling – and the press.”
Mark Tungate is a Paris-based British journalist and the author of several books about media and marketing, including Media Monoliths (2003). The second edition of his book Adland: A Global History of Advertising, has just been published by Kogan Page.