In the Sunday Independent, Declan Lynch trots out so many cliches about “the sick relationship between newspapers and the internet” it’s hard to believe he’s not making a cack-handed attempt at irony. And when I say trots, I do mean a narrow stream of squint-eyed shite.
For Declan, identifying the enemies takes no research and less thought – Google, “the great god”, the thief as decreed by Rupert Murdoch, and Wikipedia, that anonymous conglomerate of amateur research that is shamed by the quality of “the lowliest provincial paper”. Twitter? Why, without links to stories by paid-up, bona fide journalists, it would be “a bunch of people talking about what they had for breakfast”. And bloggers? Well, they are just “self-regarding bores without the writing talent or the commitment to the task that would get them a proper job in a newspaper”. Hooray, that’s surely internet bonehead bingo.
Let’s for a moment overlook Declan’s convenient exclusion of the BBC, RTE, CNN, Al-Jazeera, NPR and all the other broadcast news websites out there. Let’s just look at his notion of “quality” in the press.
Writes Declan, “the internet has shown the value of newspapers, with their culture of accuracy and accountability which has been formed over a period of centuries”. Culture of accuracy and accountability? Read an EU or Princess Diana headline in the Daily Express. Read a cancer headline in the Daily Mail. Accountable? Accurate?
Declan has fallen into that narrow view of a journalism Golden Age that lasted from Watergate to about 1990. It overlooks the biased penny press of the early 19th century, the yellow press of the late 1890s and the Sunday Sport.
And he has identified the problem. The newspaper industry “flagellates itself for failing to develop a ‘business model’ for the online age. But then there has never been a business model, and there will never be a business model, which is based on giving it away for free.” Apart from Metro, the Evening Standard, the Dublin People etc.
Declan has an “obvious thing” and a “pretty smart solution” to heal this combined sickness. Paywalls. Well so far, so original.
Still you have to hand it to Declan. For a guy who knows fuck-all about the internet, he’s a dab hand at trolling.