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The cost of cheaper journalism

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A striking statistic emerges from the fairly spectacular fallout at the Daily Mail last week.


This piece here
records that for MailOnline to make £1 of revenue, a reader needs to spend six hours on the site.

Six hours for a measly quid. Since the cover price alone of the actual paper is 80p, one wonders whether newspaper owners have got this internet stuff the right way around.

A recap on what happened.

Geordie Greig is suddenly out as editor of the Daily Mail, following a highly successful period in charge, by all accounts.

Ted Verity, the Mail of Sunday editor takes charge of both titles. The position of MailOnline chief Martin Clarke is cemented.

Some interpretation: DMGT chairman Lord Rothermere decided it was time to merge the papers and perhaps the online operation.

Greig was either opposed to this or regarded as not nasty enough to impose the cuts that seem inevitable.

His departure was welcomed in Number 10 since Greig’s Mail has lately been critical of the government, but that wasn’t why Rothermere moved as he did.

For journalists, this all looks like unmitigated bad news.

For one thing, Geordie Greig is a gent. Ted Verity and Martin Clarke are, erm, regarded as less easy to like.

But back to the money. Previous Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, today back as editor in chief across the group, liked to describe newspaper attempts to crack the internet as “bullshit.com”.

Clarke’s own stated position is that there are three things to know about internet journalism: “monkeys, dogs, cats in that order”.

This approach might make money, though it hasn’t really yet, but at what other cost?
What happens next? Well depressing things, I guess. More stories with headlines like “Why Do Women Hate Me For Being So Beautiful?”

And rather fewer campaigns into the plight of Afghan refugees.

If the flak trade is inclined to think this is somehow good, since there will be less proper journalism to deal with, the flak trade is wrong.

Worse is just worse, for everyone.

Global investors have raised their net zero ambitions significantly in the last year, says this from Aviva.

It finds that 52% of insurers and 50% of pension funds plan to have net zero portfolios by 2050.

I guess that’s good. But two questions. Will this make us richer? And someone is going to buy the “dirty” assets the pension funds are selling. Who?

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