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19 March 2017

breaking news lawrence jonesI grew up believing journalists have a responsibility to tell the truth and paint a clear and accurate picture of what is happening in the world. Lately, however, headlines are becoming more about grabbing people’s attention and selling as many papers as possible, often with no relation whatsoever to the story they are driving you towards.

It seems a shame that some British newspapers are sinking to an all-time low, funding and fuelling mouthpieces like Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan who are, at best, deliberately inciting aggression on Twitter in an attempt to drive traffic to their articles. They are creating a change in behaviour; a media where posting controversial and inciting stories is rapidly becoming the norm.

Katie has gone too far a number of times and recently found herself with £324,000 to pay after mistakenly naming and shaming an innocent person on Twitter. Given an opportunity to apologise she continued to wind the girl up. 

Whilst there are, of course, a few British newspapers who are still newspapers, it truly seems that when it comes to getting readers, there is no moral obligation amongst the Red Tops. The gloves are off and they can effectively say anything they want to about anybody, including the monarchy and our country’s leaders. We are becoming similar to the US in that sense, where the press publish complete nonsense! Look at Trump’s latest elaborate claim that not only did Obama bug his building, it was GCHQ doing it on his behalf. An appalling claim and one that would have triggered an international incident a decade or so ago. 

We’re quickly reaching a crossroads where the press are deteriorating and may not come back from. Only last month online encyclopaedia Wikipedia delisted the Daily Mail citing it’s ‘reputation for poor fact checking and sensationalism’ meant it no longer a trustworthy source. 

The question clearly in the boardroom of these newspapers is how do these old-school news outlets modernise and embrace social media. Social media is leading the game as a conduit for news stories and whilst it is at the heart of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon, it is where the audiences are.

Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan are directly engaging with these audiences online which I suspect is why they are being employed by newspapers but are they using social media as effectively as they could be? I don’t think so. Any time Piers is challenged, he simply says he has more Twitter followers than the person challenging him; as if that ratifies it and condones his behaviour. Having a huge Twitter following does not make you correct on everything you do, or better than someone else. His behaviour for an intelligent broadcaster is ludicrous, using followers as a measurement of acceptance. 

We’ve seen newcomers like Social Chain and Lad Bible come out of nowhere to absolutely own social platforms and the spread of stories. The difference is, while news outlets are looking desperately to reach people with clickbait stories, these kids who are in their twenties are having fun, spreading content that people want to engage with more often than not putting a smile on people’s faces. They’re directly reaching tens of millions of people every day, far more than the tabloids and the wannabes.  

How the traditional media compete with the new social media channels popping up everywhere, I don’t know, but I can’t see inaccurate and defamatory content as the answer.

The news of a certain Royal at the our hotel in Switzerland this week is a prime example of this poor quality content. As the news broke and hit the TV, people were commenting on the “shocking behaviour” of a guy who was simply having a quiet weekend away with his friends. Turning a high five with a waitress into a drinking session implying there was far more to the encounter.

I thought the press had agreed to lay of the Royal family.

The real story is that the lovely young lady who works for me at the Farinet was offered a significant amount of cash from the newspapers to give them something to write about. Even though it was a life-changing sum of money, she declined to talk to the press in any capacity, so instead the paparazzi  spent a week harassing everyones friends and families.

The story that has zero substance a week later is still ongoing.

Imagine what could be achieved by the news channels, and how the quality of journalism could be improved, if they spent these huge sums of money more wisely.

That one sum alone could pay the salary of two apprentices for a year; two apprentices who could help to drive this new generation of content and news sharing. The huge sum of money going to the lawyers in the Katie Hopkins case again could have paid for 20 apprentices.

 

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