“The gravitas of a tuck shop queue”

Many newspapers have based their digital strategy on lazy clickbait: contrarianism, hyperbole and trivia. There’s just one problem with that. It’s a road to nowhere.

Writing in The Irish Times, former Sunday Independent editor Anne Harris describes the new media operations of Ireland’s beleaguered Independent News & Media group.

A decision was made to prioritise digital, and the strategy was called digital first. This could have worked out fine were the right decisions made. But digital first was profoundly flawed.

INM opted for click-based journalism, thereby bringing it downmarket. The idea of click-based journalism is already redundant. And you don’t need to be a marketing genius to know that when you bring a product downmarket it is almost impossible to bring it back up. Added to that, the market is always reluctant to pay for what was once given free.

As Harris rightly points out, if your plan is to get people to pay for your journalism via a paywall you need to give them content worth paying for.

…journalistic quality is the sine qua non of a paywall, and that will prove extremely difficult to achieve in an organisation that has not prioritised talent for some years.

(The title of this post comes from a Twitter user describing Scots newspapers’ social media feeds.)