Simon Balsom – Ingram’s Review

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CULTURE / OPINIONSSIMON BALSOMOur nation’s print media is in a state of flux. Simon Balsom contends that change presents opportunities, and it’s time for a revival of the nation’s regional press. The decentralisation of media would create a voice for the regions and deliver a corresponding boost to its businesses. Simon Balsom is the Editor of Ingram’s Reviewingrams-review.comThe print media in Great Britain is a shadow of its former self. Almost extinct today, and deeply lamented by me, are the national daily broadsheets. Their reduction in dimensions has gone hand in hand with an erosion of gravitas and influence.  With the dawn of the digital age it became essential that newspapers evolve, and to do so not for the first time. In previous situations our daily press survived, and even flourished. In the face of the new-fangled wireless the influence of print journalism grew, and the press even outshone the spread of broadcast television. Only in this era of the Internet did it capitulate. Our once fine print media has largely sold out to Mammon and become a vehicle, predominantly, of commercial opportunity. News, analysis and campaigning have taken a backseat to popular stories created to sell copies. Pushing against a seemingly relentless tide, sections of the national press have become ever more desperate and accompanyingly sensational.  The nation’s once vibrant and vitally important regional press has reacted in a similar fashion, but without large readerships to fall back from, the shape of our local newspaper network has changed far more dramatically. Evening editions have disappeared and daily newspapers have become weekly. Yet it didn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to look far from these borders to find a better model than our own. I have recently returned from a visit to Germany’s home of ‘haute horologie’ in Saxony. Whilst there are lessons a-plenty British industry can learn from our Teutonic cousins, we can also learn from the structure of their newspaper sector. Here exists a lively national press, one both underpinned and challenged by a network of regional newspapers each with its own agenda to put forward in vehement support of its own town, city or state. The net effects of a strong regional newspaper network are manifold. The overarching outcome is to generate informed debate and ensure the delivery of the region’s perspective on national concerns.  These are newspapers of national record but from regional angles.  In Germany the national press is neither a Berlin nor a Frankfurt machine in the way that Britain’s national press is London-centric. Theirs is a truly nationwide press.  Given this model the region’s business and political news is set in real context with national events. Its businesses benefit because of the addition of available column inches, and through the considered analysis therefore able to be given. These newspapers, which are invariably attractively styled and designed, are widely read by opinion leaders and opinion formers. The quality of their readers is matched by the quality of their writers.  German regional media has correctly assessed the true value of its regions within the nation. I can’t help feeling England’s regional print media are missing a trick here. The return of our once vibrant regional press would be extremely good for business.First published inIngram’s ReviewIssue 02, July 2014

Ingram’s Review is a regional briefing on commerce and business, culture and design for Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.Publishing twice annually, Ingram’s Review provides Sector Insights, City Insights and Special Reportsas well as covering  the region’s finest culture and design news, people and events.INGRAM’S REVIEWKEEPING AN EYE AND AN EAR ON THE [email protected] 2015

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