Michael Taggart

Welcome to my blog. Stay a while, look around. Don't touch the wallpaper.

I’m going to start with a pre-emptive caveat. What Jeremy Clarkson said was silly and insensitive. Obviously.

What is even more obvious is that the unions and the Twitterati need to get a grip. It surely must be apparent to anyone who’s ever seen Clarkson on TV or read one of his columns that he was joking.

It. Was. A. Joke.

**UPDATE ON 12/8/11, 12.15pm**

The blog post below questions the wisdom of Newsquest’s new ‘social networking policy’, which rules out many of the productive online practices of its journalists. I have just heard that Newsquest has SHELVED the policy in response to the outrage it caused among its own journalists this week. I have emailed managing director Roger Green and James Trudgian, head of audience development, to ask if this is true and why the policy has been withdrawn. I will update again when I have the company’s official response.


Louise Mensch

[UPDATE at 5.20pm 29/7/2011 – The New Statesman’s Guy Walters tells me the David Jones who wrote to Mensch is not the David Jones who writes for the Daily Mail. Apols to the latter but the point below stands (ht Helen Lewis)]

It’s likely the investigative journalist David Jones allowed himself a twinge of satisfaction as he wrote to Louise Mensch MP to tell her he was about to break a story about her public drug-taking and sacking from EMI for misconduct.

Jessie Eisenberg in The Social Network

Old media sets the entry bar high.

To partake in, say, the Hollywood film industry, you’ll need equipment – cameras, mobile cabins, mirrors with lights around the edges and hotdogs.

You’ll need an international film production and distribution company – like, say, Columbia Pictures – as well as publicists, runners, voice coaches and drivers.

You’ll need very famous, very highly-paid, very pampered stars. People like, say, Justin Timberlake.

How it must irk those accomplished and immaculately-connected producers, directors, script writers and actors that anyone can now do this sort of thing for the price of a laptop, a camcorder and a tank of petrol.

Can we save local newspapers?

I’m not going to answer that question.


But politicians of all persuasions are certainly queuing up to tell us that we should try.

The demise of the local rag would be a tragedy, they say. We’d be losing a pillar of local democracy, they tell us. “My best mate’s a media baron, who’s going to help me stay in power,” they often add. Hang on, that last bit’s not right.

Meanwhile consumers of media are changing their habits at a frightening pace, largely at the expense of the Press.

I’m researching a blog for the near future on whether we should be concerned about the fact most local newspapers are haemmorhaging readers.

I want to know what, if anything, can be done about it and whether we should do anything about it.

If you’ve read your local paper and you’ve got a single idea about how it could adapt to the internet age – how it could improve so you’d be more inclined to buy it (or keep buying it) – I’d be really interested in your views

I’ve put some questions below to  prompt you but please feel free to rap freestyle, either in the comments section at the bottom of this post or by emailing me privately at michaeltaggart[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk (I’ve written it like that to stop evil web spam robots taking my family hostage).

Many local newspaper editors hope their core readers will protect them from the threat of the internet.

In almost every region, these readers are Baby Boomers and their older brothers and sisters.

Advertising rate cards proudly boast their publications are aimed at Mr and Mrs Fifty-Plus – a restaurant-going, theatre-loving, holiday-booking couple who have a bit of cash to spend.

What have Seth Godin, Laura Lippman, the Huffington Post and the Oxford English Dictionary got in common?

They say it’s not a crime to make a mistake.

Clearly that’s not always the case and so I prefer the faithful bed fellow of that phrase: “The real crime is the failure to learn from ones mistakes”.

Thus it was with an approving nod that I read at the weekend that the venerable Oxford Online Dictionary had announced its next edition might only be available online.

The current (and second) edition of the dictionary – 20 hefty volumes costing £750 ($1,165) – has been sold around 30,000 times since publication in 1989, mostly to obsessive bibliophiles and weird collectors.

The next edition will likely be read by a great many more people and will not be made of dead trees. In fact, the current digital version is already enjoying two million visits a month.

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