Telegraph Must Adapt but Still Make Journalism Count; Media Analysis

Article excerpt

Byline: Roy Greenslade

IN NEWSPAPERS over the past decade a two-word phrase, usually accompanied by a sigh, has emerged as an explanation for continual and controversial changes -- "digital disruption".

In this transitory stage from print to online, uncomfortable, and often mistaken, decisions have become regular events, as yesterday's firing of the Daily Telegraph's editor, Tony Gallagher, illustrated.

Gallagher, pictured, has been sacrificed on the altar of the digital revolution. The Telegraph Media Group, anxious about falling behind in the great online race, preferred to enhance the status of their digital prince, Jason Seiken, rather than the print king, Gallagher.

Not that Gallagher was digitalblind, of course. He grasped the necessity of feeding all platforms with his journalists' editorial output. It is simply the case that TMG made a strategic decision last September in appointing Seiken as "chief content officer", one of those unlovely and unloved modern job descriptions.

Seiken, with a track record in transforming the digital fortunes of America's PBS, was hired to complete TMG's "transition to a fully integrated digital business". It sounded then like a boast too far. It looks now, taking into consideration the digital disruption to newspapers across the world, a foolish promise.

In truth, there is no magic bullet to the saving of newspaper publishing groups. In their desire to maintain print readerships while building new audiences online, they are all groping in the dark. They are experimenting. They are gambling.

And, as the Gallagher dismissal shows, they are also panicking.

Seiken may have a vision. …

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