Newspapers' scale screw-up is no secret

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Digiday has published the confessions of a “senior publishing executive at a U.K newspaper”. And it’s all “mea culpa”:

The digital media industry has completely screwed up by pursuing scale for the sake of scale. There’s been a relentless pursuit for the biggest number you can get, which has partly been driven by what advertisers want, and partly driven by vanity. We have all chased unique users without really interrogating why we want those users. The way Google and social platforms in general have made us work, is that we want a new person at all points, regardless of whether that person engages with the site at all.

The interesting element of the story is not what this anonymous exec has to say – it’s nothing commentators haven’t been pointing out for years now – it’s the fact that they seem to have needed anonymity to say it. If this kind of commentary is so against the perceived status quo that the exec fears for their job by speaking openly, then at least one UK national newspaper is in a dangerous strategic and cultural mindset.


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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.