Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Metro readers. All idiots?

I don't know who this Bob Garfield character is, some Madison Avenue pundit jacked up on Benzadrine I'd imagine, given his rapid-fire assertive written style, but he's fairly sure that the media world as we know and tolerate it is about to end. David Simon, a man whose integrity as a producer of media deserves some respect, is saying the same thing about newspapers. You can also, funnily enough, read about this exact situation on p.414 in your copy of Infinite Jest (published 1997). A book, which, as a consequence of searching for this reference, I'm in danger of starting to read all over again. As you can see from my picture, this is fairly serious undertaking (that's an A4 pad on the table next to it).

The problem is value. What's valuable and what "wants to be free." People thought for ages that web advertising could fund anything, even professional journalism, but the truth is you can't support everything with advertising - no one clicks on web-banners - I'm a heavy internet user and a profligate and greedy shopper and in the past year, particularly since I've been using AdBlock Plus, I don't think I've clicked on any. In the end you're just jacking the economy up on stilts because if you give people news, communication, music, film and mobile free based on advertising revenue, what, in this country where nobody deigns to be a coalminer, car manufacturer or a shipbuilder, are we going to sell?

There's a role for advertising in all of this which is to convince people that getting something free does lead to a drop in quality. I'd say this argument is about self-respect. People believe that information should be free, but good information is only worth what you ask for it - it has no intrinsic value because it's intangible, it's something that you have to agree on. Some people don't and never will care about the quality of what they consume, but some people might be persuaded to. I hate the Metro, I also hate anyone who reads the Metro. I read the Evening Standard, which, with its combination in murders described by sickos and theatre reviewed by snobs, plus an extremely petty-minded and partisan approach to local politics, is more or less my ideal paper. Anyway, now the Standard is under Russian ownership (Oligarch and former KGB man Alexander Lebedev, bought it because it reminds him of his time as young agent in London during the height of the Cold War, you could not make this shit up) and has dissociated itself from the London Lite I hope they will be launching an aggressively patronising campaign aimed exposing Metro readers as the mindlessly troughing swine they in fact are, leading with my line "Would you eat something you'd found on the tube?"

I did go an see someone about a job yesterday. It seemed to go ok, I let him read one of the Garroters Gazeteer pieces and only while he was doing so began to sense that it perhaps cast my approach to my work in a rather negative light. Sometimes I really have no idea.


Anonymous said...

And that laptop of yours is A0 size?

BadBeard said...

Now there's a book I regretted not finishing. But there's only so much anyone needs to know about tennis.

I just assumed the clue was in the title and gave up.

Tosh said...

Good to see you back on form following your Spanish interlude, Gordon. I treasure the image of you in your armchair, feet up on your copy of Infinite Jest, reading the Evening Standard from cover to cover. Can we have more expletives, please?

Mike Laurie said...

the metro is terrible

Ben said...

Funny, that with these disgusting free rags, the Standard is the only way to go. The best bit of it is ES magazine, whose articles must include a life peer, a betting sydicate from the seventies and a very loose relationship with reality as 99.999% of the population knows it.

golublog said...

I don't click on ads. But I go on brand website. Play games and interact with anything that is actually interesting.

Gordon Comstock said...

Yeah the ES magazine is truly absurd. K. read me out this article by a banker called like Edward Cash or something complaining that because of the credit crunch and his recent divorce he only had his little place in Holland Park and his country house. I had to go and peer over her shoulder to check that she wasn't just adlibbing the whole thing as a snide critique of my readership of the Evening Standard and interest in material goods generally.

I think I probably need a job, just to stop my paranoia overwhelming me.


How would you get a game or a brand website to work with say, the content of the New York Times? I'm sure they'd like to hear from you if you have answer.