Osborne’s editorship – good for traditional media?

20 March 2017, Blog

The Weekend Word – 20 March 2017

The London Evening Standard wrote its own headlines Friday with the appointment of the former Chancellor of Exchequer as it’s new editor.

The move has caused uproar and consternation in political circles, his own constituency and the world of media. Concerns over political neutrality, work-political balance, conflicts of interest and his journalistic capability abound  (he failed to get on a Times graduate scheme and his only job in the sector to date was as editor of the Oxford University magazine).

John McDonnell tweeted cynically: I would like to write a column about Hammond’s budget failure – are you interested? Whilst a Guardian columnist responded to the Evening Standard’s proprietor Evgeny Lebedev’s statement: “I am proud to have an editor of such substance,” with the riposte “what substance? Crystal meth?

Joking aside, what does Osborne’s appointment say about the state of the media, particularly print which has had its well documented challenges as the majority of us access our sources of daily information from multiple media channels.

Arguably an appointment of someone with such significant profile and influence could be seen as a boost to the flagging print media industry. As of June last year, when the paper announced its end of year finances, the publisher reported that the paper had increased circulation by 200,000 in just over two years to 900,000 which is no mean feat in the mobile device dominated world we live in.

It’s still a long way from the glory days of the paper which had five editions per day but still shows that there is significant demand for it. If a PR could tell its client wishing  to target a London audience that its coverage in the print version of the Evening Standard would reach out to 900,000 followers in the capital plus 14.2 monthly million unique browsers of its online edition, I’m sure they would be excited by the prospect.

The point is that it’s too easy to dismiss mainstream media as being a critical element in the overall media mix. But the question is how do you define ‘traditional media’ as print publishers have reinvented themselves offering complementary online editions. Like us they’re also using social media to disseminate their content. This all means their content is achieving more reach. They also have the benefit of having established credibility amongst their target markets over many years as the go to sources for information.

So as George takes the hot seat at the London Evening Standard, don’t forget the influence that traditional media publishers still hold – just ask Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn who will be working out how they can use the paper to get their messages across to the people and businesses of London in the future. To coin a newspaper phrase: watch this space!

JBP Staff Member

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