Are Newspapers Dumbing Down To Get Traffic?
I want you to have a look at the screen grab for today’s Telegraph newspaper. Now the Telegraph is one of the oldest and most respected newspapers in the world but just like the rest of the their colleagues in print industry they are struggling amid decreasing circulation and shrinking advertising revenues. One beacon of light that the Telegraph have picked up on is the fact that links can be spread virally through social sites and they recently revealed that over 8% of their traffic comes form sites like Digg and Stumbleupon. You only have to look at the branded Digg widget that they have created and given prominent real estate to on the page to see just how important social sites are to their business.
Now this is all well and good but you have to consider that it is only a certain type of story that usually makes it on to these sites (think crazy pictures, funny videos, top 10 lists etc) and you have to wonder how much newspapers are now tailoring their content to meet the dumbed down nature of these sites. I mean look at the title of the post above that I came across this morning shared on Facebook, it is hardly going to win any journalistic awards this year but there is a very good chance that I am going to read it and then click on one of the sharing options that are littered around the post.
You have to take your hat off to the Telegraph in a certain way as they are not lying down and accepting their decline without a fight but you also have to wonder what does this mean for the quality of content that we are reading online? People won’t be as inclined to share insightful editorials through Twitter as they will a story like the one above so does that mean that newspapers and online publications are dumbing down in the hunt for traffic? Will it balance out in the long run and will good well written content always exist and be easy to find no matter what the trends of the day?