Birthday post, nothing to do with my blogs birthday

It’s my blogs 1st Birthday today. That’s 18/06/2012 if you are reading this any other day. If you are thinking of doing one of your own, or are just a blog fan. I’ll start with why I started.

18 months ago I couldn’t have contemplated doing this. I was not in a great place in my head and taking anti-depressants because a doctor told me 6 years earlier that I was depressed. I had no enthusiasm for or interest in anything. I just wandered aimlessly from day to day.  A few months ago I decided I was happier and deciding to stop taking the medication. I had a look at the paperwork in the box and discovered all the physical symptoms of my ‘ailment’ were side effects of the drugs. That’s pretty rubbish. All that is also another story.

Like all my years this last year was eventful, I lost a dog, I got a puppy, I went on some nice trips. I had my first hornet sting which was a blog post in itself. I took up twittering. Mostly though I discovered that I like writing things down. I also wrote my life story, It is now a little book. It’s not a good book but it’s my book.

I used to write a bit once upon a time but hadn’t written anything for absolutely years. I started doing ranty notes on Facebook about things I felt needed airing in my own unique way. But no-one reads ranty notes on Facebook so that was all a bit pointless. A mate has a blog, a proper one full of important and informative things. I decided I would make one too. It started as me cutting and pasting my shouty emails about crap customer service written in my poor quality English. I can articulate an idea I just am very poor at correct English like a teacher would show you. I failed English at school. Mostly because I was too busy acting the goat.

The ranty emails place evolved into my own take on things that I am interested in. Me thinking out loud so to speak. My views, Sandysviews. I have to be careful what I write about and how I write it as employers can read this. Writing things down is not my day job. People need to remember that anything they put on the internet is visible to everyone. I always have that in the back of my mind when I write anything. I tweet my blog posts and some people read them. Disappointingly few each time, but some people.

It’s my little corner of the social media world. In my humble opinion the Social media world is taking over from the mainstream media in terms of influence and I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing. Plenty of people get their daily dose of news and information from radio, newspapers and television of course. But the young people, the people who will be running things soon, consume their media in a different way or at least get the scoops on things happening in a different way. They don’t sit on a train reading a paper copy of the Daily Mail.

The media is very high profile at the moment with the Leveson Enquiry into press standards. Much soul searching and examination is being done into how the press conduct themselves in pursuit of a story. But something is not being explained here to the general public so I’m going to do it.

Newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television networks are vessels for advertising. The news in the middle of the ads is just to flesh out the edition or show, or day. The media vessels, as I’ll call them, exist to make advertising revenue for the people who own them. The non-advertising bit or ‘editorial’ is incidental to the main point of the publication which is to make lots of money for the owners.

State owned media are broadcasting vessels to promote the interests of the nation and to entertain and inform the populace. The BBC often seems to forget this as I think it is run by socialists who don’t like Great Britain very much. They seem to prefer that the country would be a republic. That’s another story also. Back to the vast majority of the media which is commercial.

I worked in media for many years.  I worked in the advertising bit. Advertising costs are based on numbers of readers or viewers. The more the better. Quantity matters far more than quality as all the quality of the consumer determines is who you target the advertising at and what you advertise. The media vessels will battle for a story or to get a scoop or to bring in more readership or viewers or listeners. This is because that will make them more attractive to advertisers, thereby increasing revenue and market share. The news bit in the middle of the ads will be reflective of the opinions or politics of the media owner.

What the phone hackers have been doing is just a modern day version of going through dustbins. The public demand to know everything about everyone in our new transparent celebrity culture world. Paramount in the interests of the owner of a media vessel is the advertising revenue, that’s how they maintain their lifestyle and feed their family. The pressure to increase advertising revenue is immense, the competition is fierce. There is little room for anyone to get too precious about ethics or to trail the field in securing the story or exclusive feature as the precious audience will go elsewhere. The ad revenue will drop off. Am I making myself clear?

I have personal experience of this. Once upon a time as a successful young sales person for a major London Radio Station, I secured a massive advertising deal. I got the flagship program sponsored. The sale got in the paper. My program controller was not happy though that his flagship show had been sold to an advertiser. We were a commercial station and everything was for sale. It was how we achieved our huge sales targets. At our work Christmas party the program controller accosted me and told me I’d compromised the integrity of his best show. I put my side of the story and we had a bit of a heated discussion about it. In the Media section of a London Newspaper the next week it was reported we had a massive fist fight in the restaurant. We had “been going for each other’s throats”. “It was vicious” apparently. Total fabrication, but two blokes having an argument over supper would have made a less interesting story.

The whole enquiry is focussing on the morality and standards of the journalists and who did the actual hacking. The Murdoch’s have taken some flak for trying to influence power in Great Britain. Allegedly telling Politicians what line to take if they wished to garner the support of their newspapers, their readers. That’s a sideshow to me. Just boasting of who has the most paying customers.  That’s just posturing by men who have much power and influence. What’s the point of having power if you don’t wield it?

No the issue here is the pressure being put upon people paid to come up with some new and exciting story to increase readership and/or viewer numbers so the media owners can put the advertising prices up. I’m all for successful business stories but I also like to understand why people do things.

What was done to get to this enquiry was wrong of course but it’s not because Rebekah Brooks and her ilk are morally bankrupt. It’s because the pressure to increase the media consumer numbers is massive. It’s the reason the media vessel exists. It is the primary concern of the media owner, not the news, information or entertainment within it. It’s all very well to accuse people of behaving unethically or in an underhand fashion. If they had declined, there would be dozens more queuing up to do it instead. So there you have it.They do it because you, the consumer, want the news, the dirt, the gossip, the scandal. If you don’t get it from one place you will go to another. The other place will be better placed to sell more advertising for more money, which is what the media owner wants. It is how the media world works. Get used to it because it’s not changing anytime soon.

Not my blog though, no advertising revenue here. Just me thinking out loud. Happy Birthday to my little blog and thanks for popping by. I have lots of other stuff; look to the right, see all those headings? All good stuff, have a poke around. Say hello

8 replies »

  1. You have written an enormous amount in the last year, Sandy. A blog birthday is an important milestone, as it’s part of you.

    I enjoy blogging because of the immediacy of publishing, but you are right (as usual) – always bear in mind who might be lurking on Google to find out about you x.

    Oh, and just for the record – I’m so cross about the phone hacking scandal. It’s not like going through the bins. It’s a vile activity sanctioned by … sorry, have to stop there.

  2. Thanks Lesley, Your comments and support are always much appreciated. When I say going through the bins, to me its just a modern day equivalent of an age old practice of having a rummage in someones privacy and doings, but with new technology.

  3. “What was done to get to this enquiry was wrong of course but it’s not because Rebekah Brooks and her ilk are morally bankrupt. It’s because the pressure to increase the media consumer numbers is massive.”

    But that is the point for me Sandy.

    It reminds me of the old story of the smart and well presented businessman who finding himeslf on a long train journey in the same compartment as an equally smart and attractive business women, asks “Excuse me but you’re very attractive, would you sleep with me for £10,000?”. The business women is taken aback but ponders for a moment and replies “I might do, I’d have to think.” So she is then asked, “Would you sleep with me for £50?” To which she replies, outraged, “Certainly not, whatever do you take me for, how dare you?” The questioner responds, “But Madame, I thought we had established that and were just haggling over the price.”

    Doing something you know to be wrong because you are put under pressure or enticed doesn’t make you less morally bankrupt than the person who doesn’t know it’s wrong. Just more expensive and it should make you more accountable. In my view.

    Congratulations on your continuing quality output.

    • Thanks Jon. Insightful contribution as always. I was going to use the old just camp guard following orders analogy, but thats a bit extreme. In the media industry its tough to start saying no if you dont like the behaviour. It would set off much soul searching and ultimately the press are just delivering what the public are baying for. Its self perpetuating.

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