MORE evidence emerges regarding the digital first strategy of Local World, and this time it’s the man in charge confessing all.
Two weeks ago the East Grinstead Courier & Observer hit the streets with a clever and dignified treatment marking the deaths of 108 local people in a second world war bombing raid. Last week the newspaper splashed with a tacky cartoon of a woman’s backside after a lady who had enjoyed a night on the town sat down on a wall, became wedged between two pillars and had to be freed by firefighters.
So how did an amusing nib suddenly become a Page 1 lead? Because Twitter said so.
In an article on HoldTheFrontPage, news editor David Farbrother explained that the ‘stuck bottom’ story was the paper’s most popular web story of the year, with 6,388 unique visitors over two days and 7,811 page impressions in total. “These are huge figures for a newspaper like ours, and it seems the sort of figures advertisers take note of. Because it’s been so popular and re-tweeted so much, we splashed on it.”
A couple of things to note. Firstly, how many of those unique visitors from all over the world lingered long enough to buy some second-hand gold from James Stephens Jewellers of Crawley, or place an order for a hand-held device from Sweet Tablets, who have a pop-up shop opposite WH Smith in the County Mall, two of the aforementioned advertisers on the website?
And secondly, Local World chairman David Montgomery is suspected to regard editors as an unnecessary extravagance. It seems he might be right. Why bother employing someone to make the decisions about what stories go where when you can just stick the news list up on social media and let fucking Twitter decide for you?
The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan