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.
Posted by william at 4:33 pm