2007 - 2022

Nobody Knows What They Are Doing — Business Models For New Media In Scotland

trump-warholNever let a good crisis go to waste is a solid political watchword – and boy do we have a crisis.

The internet has drained advertising away from the preserve of the traditional newspapers. Journalism used to be funded by a thick bed of personals, recruitment display and glossy brand establishment adverts. Most of them are gone and the traditional press has been haemorrhaging money and journalists.

This is particularly true of the Scottish press – the Scotsman is a mere shadow of its former self.

The new gods, the Google’s and Facebook’s hoover up the money and have set themselves up as the publishers for the worlds news. This hasn’t worked out well. The share of the advertising loot is so rigged in their direction that it turns out fake news is the only news with a sustainable business model for them. It is easy to knock up journalism-free articles that press emotional hot buttons and that is cheap enough for you to make money on the scraps the internet giants throw you.

It turns out the world needs journalists like the world needs bees – as everyone has become abundantly aware since the election of Mr Trump.

But, as the brief crisis of Bella Caledonia showed, merely wanting to replace the ‘mainstream media’ isn’t enough – you need sustainable business models – bills to be paid, journalists need to put the food on the table.

Some big newspaper groups have found working business models – the Spectator is in rude health, the Times Group is emerging as a powerhouse in the Scottish press. But be under no illusion their ‘business models’ are built on strong product: smart journos, good writing, excellent editing and sharp production practices.

This twin crisis of the traditional press and the existing social media then is an opportunity. If new business models can be found (think of the Ferret or Common Space) and these are sustainable, expandable, exportable – then we have the seeds of new media organisations: global, profitable and influential.

The Edinburgh tech sector went from being an unprepossessing puddle to world class by ruthlessly sharing ideas and expertise, being wildly ambitious (even whilst being rubbish) and then improving, improving, improving.

Why would anyone organise a political conference on business models for digital media

Nobody Knows What They Are Doing — Business Models For New Media In Scotland is a conference to address these issues – taking place in Glasgow on Saturday 25th March. It is for people who work in politics and new media and those who think they matter. Come along help shape the future.

Comments (5)

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  1. SleepingDog says:

    I had a look at the promotional material for the event, and there seemed to be little or no perspective on the technology itself. For example, is there a role for shared, open technology standards that might equalise access to the news search engines, provide some kind of machine-checkable provenance (to help fact checking and quote sourcing, say)? For information classification systems and semantic markup that would help artificially-intelligent agents sift through the maelstrom?

  2. c rober says:

    Murdoch crept into power by one at a time motto. Headbutting the old money and privilege along the way , each one fell and was bought up – now its TV for news and content replacing covers , where one hand washes the other. Its the Tesco model , identical to what defeated indy , to defeating democracy , of “every little helps”.

    These are the new enemy of the people , with pointing the finger at Russian computers as the enemy , just like they did rising as the red tops pointing at the broadsheets – offering to be the workers press.

    Every single subscription to SKY enables that power , its all connected , the hand of politics being controlled by the media – thinking it has power over the media. The other option is what , digital tv , or cable?

    This is why I have been asking why media is a reserved matter to Westminster , and not devolved to Scotland – every single reserved matter of value , financially or power , is kept at Westminster. So during indy it was in their interest to prevent it being devolved.

    Were is the prevention of too much power , of too few owning too much?

    We live in a state that promotes it , protects it.

    From Utilities to Media , there is oligopolies , its time to break them up.

    There is no real competition to SKy , there is but one TV sat company , and but one Cable company , and just like the UTILS but a handful of press barons – nearly all being donors to the Tories , thus Westminster rule , and the prevention of Independence is the prevention of change.

    So to offer a new voice , or voices to be precise , for their competition , pre indy , is the best conclusion. This is why the biggest player of them all is called the King Maker , he continually expands , into America , that EU so despised in the media he owns , but not as yet into Scotland other than as part of the UK.

    So its right to beware the Greece scenario for an indy Scotland , but its not their fiscal state , its their proverbial gifts in the form of wooden media horses we should be worried about – Australian ones.

  3. interpolar says:

    A proposal currently being discussed in Switzerland at the minute is to use television license fees for the entire media spectrum, particularly including print media. How it is distributed is a long and difficult argument still to be had, but the basic idea is compelling.

  4. douglas clark says:

    Could you expand on The Times Groups good health? I am unaware of any newspaper’s doing well.


  5. MBC says:

    I wonder if this is a problem of English language media? In Norway at present the traditional newsprint is in good health with many local and regional papers still being bought. The quality of international coverage is however poor.

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