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Ron Davison

Great post!

It is a bit chicken and egg, no? If western audiences are more pessimistic, wouldn't western journalism be in part to blame? The race for ratings suggests the need for stories that dilate your pupils - stories of sex, violence, and apocalyptic warnings bring in more revenue.


I wish I was clever enough at age 8 to know what 'desertification' meant. I'm not convinced I know the exact meaning at the age of 27.

I think to ensure some sort of future for newspapers (read: newspaper groups and newspaper brands), the following needs to happen:

- Make daily papers free (although, with more and more advertising revenue being put on the web rather than in papers, not sure how a free newspaper model would work in the 'future' - you probably know the answer to this though)
- Make paid for newspapers weekly (indepth round up of the weeks stories)
- Newspaper sites should offer an afternoon PDF print out that has been created from the personalisation of the types of news stories (imagine your example of MyESPN printed out)
- Have a 'web first, print second' model in place (and not just in name!). Ensure all jingly-jangly handheld BlackberryiPhonePDASidewinderCameraVibratorTelevision are as interactive as the computer websites.

But these are small fry, standard ideas. Ultimately newspaper groups should invest heavily in television, web television, radio, blah blah blah convergence etc and all the rest of it to turn themselves into a strong media group (goodbye Northcliffe Newspapers, hullo Northcliffe Media a case in point). They need to follow the advertising spend, and not be precious about lending their strong brands to other forms of media (as well as investing quiet stakes in others that don't betray their key values).

Ultimately it's about turning newspapers into news organisations, and being able to compete with other news organisations from different media. Obvious, right? Right.

Oh, and to address the point of your blog, I don't think newspaper groups are pessamistic, they're invigorated by new directions. Don't confuse newspaper journalists and slightly sozzled bloggers with the companies.

PS, still not finished your book, will send to you eventually unless you want it sooner.


Although I've been known to foist Chabon's New York Review of Books review of Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy on a few (adult) folks who make the mistake of getting me going down that garden path, I doubt I'd want my 6-year old daughter growing up to marry Chabon's 8-year old son. She still thinks she's going to sing and dance to High School Musical forever, and that maybe one day she'll get to kiss Troy (the boy lead). She apears to have, with my help, a sunny childhood going, for the time being at least. What would that particular 8-year old have to fall back on to fuel a Future that could ever account for and include singing and dancing as needed? Surely the survivalist's kit would include such elements over a uber-yuppy's Greek Island.

If ever there was a time to impose a feminine ideal on western culture, then we women folk need to be practicing our all-American moves -- really, really hard.


I suggest that people generally become pessimistic and addicted to gloomy navel-gazing in proportion to how much their lives are circumscribed in practice by thousands of petty regulations, enthusiastically enforced.

Europe has more of these than either the US or China (and is getting worse all the time). The US is in the middle, and China is currently more like the Wild West in this regard.


Most of Europe has a history which is actually, when you remove the cant and posturing, one of ever increasing domination by tiny elites, punctuated by occasional revolutions. It's their way of 'throwing the bastards out'. Under these conditions a period of stability such as we've now had for 50 years becomes crushingly demoralizing for the little guy, as is so well reflected in this survey data.

The truth is that the modern EU has become every bit as trapped in its stultifying pieties as was the pre-reformation Catholic church. It's a repetition of the same cultural phenomenon.

As in the earlier case, the answer lies in a change of behavior. The reformation, in whatever form it takes, will have to come from within. The rest of us outside Europe can only watch (and the EU moves so slowly these days we don't even have to do much of that).

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