Over at Buzzmachine, Jeff Jarvis excoriates Paul Hayes, Managing Director of Times Publications, for his recent comments about bloggers. At the Internet World exhibition last Tuesday, Hayes is reported as saying (PressGazette),
"Some blogs are conversations among people you'd frankly prefer not to meet, others are cries for help and their writers are clearly in need of therapy. Others are just people expressing themselves, which is an entirely honourable pursuit, but would you like to meet this geek on a dark night?"
I do not know of anything more certainly injurious to the long-term prospects of mainstream media than this sort of unabashed, unquestioning contempt for the people formerly known as the audience (PressThink) - the people who buy newspapers and who presumably right up until they started blogging fell into the category of valued paying customers. Now they've spoken back they are "in need of therapy", people "you'd prefer not to meet" or "geeks" (an insult still in currency only amongst those so from the cluetrain they don't realise that geeks proudly label themselves geeks and have done since even before Microserfs made us aware of the fact a decade ago).
Newspaper readers are people. Bloggers are people. Often, astonishing though this apparently seems to many who should know better, they are the same people. If you're going to hold your paying customers in contempt at least don't stand up in a public forum and crack jokes about it. As I've said before and will surely say again...when your audience is your enemy, the game is already over. Last year losses at Times Newspapers Ltd widened from £40 million to £46.9 million - more, perhaps, because the connection between the company and its (potential? ex?) customers has manifestly been severed at the highest level than because of the "increased depreciation and other costs associated with the development of new printing plants" that the company claimed.