September, 2010

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He’s never been to Saskatchewan…

Monday, September 20th, 2010


That Indians drink as heavily as Irish people is something of an eye-opener, I must admit. I’ve spent many happy hours in the company of intoxicated Celts but none I’m sorry to say in the company of Indians.

And the walls came tumbling down?

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Damien Thompson on Pope Benedict’s visits to Westminster and Westminster Abbey:

The difference is that the only anti-Catholics with influence are secularists who aren’t interested enough in the papal claims even to find out what they are. (I’m thinking of Peter Tatchell’s amazingly ignorant Channel 4 documentary.) They hate religion and they pick on Catholics because they’re the softest target. Protestant anti-Catholics, in contrast, don’t have mates in the media or useful allies in the Church of England. All they can do is watch in horror as the Pope of Rome processes into the church where Protestant monarchs are crowned, declares unambigously that he is the successor of St Peter with responsibility for the unity of Christendom, and then walks out again – to hearty applause.

I’ll have to get me the commemorative DVD.

Conrad Black on the future of newspapers

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

If his well-known legal troubles hadn’t intervened, it would be interesting to see where Conrad Black would have taken Hollinger after divesting it of much of its print media. Some hints are to be found in his current article in the New Criterion:

The most likely survival scenario for the more robust newspapers is intimately linked to technological innovation in home printers. There are those, in large numbers, who prefer to read from paper than a screen and also those for whom reading from paper is the only practical method of reading because of whatever else they may be doing or where they may be when trying to read. To reorient itself to the expiry of its old lifelines and to the accessible places from which a manageable future may beckon, newspapers will have to do two things: gather some exclusive attachments to writers with large followings of dedicated readers and build a loyal fortress of readers around their stable of writers and the good will in the brand. They will have to hire dozens of rewrite people to build an electronic newspaper, constantly updated, and connected to many other media files and features, and run it like a sophisticated version of cable news. At the same time, designer versions of the newspaper should be emailed to subscribers, to be printed out at pre-agreed times or as particular bulletins come in, in a format that more closely resembles a recognizable newspaper than a contemporary home printer can manage, so that it awaits the pleasure of the subscriber with that individual’s known news, comment, and entertainment preferences favored in the composition of the personalized edition.

To this scenario I would add the ability to incorporate any article from any writer/blogger/photographer, and to severely pare down the number of full-time journalists on the newspaper’s staff.

It would have been fascinating to see what Black might have accomplished if instead of being hounded out of Hollinger and then convicted, he had retained control of the company and had used the funds raised from the divestiture of Southam and other of his media properties to reinvent the print media. Then again, the new media format that he is proposing would be far cheaper to start and run than a conventional newspaper, so perhaps it’s too early to count ol’ Conrad out just yet.