In my humble opinion, Dame Cairncross should start drinking more beer. She might, just, get where the world of media is heading…

Let’s take Dame Frances Cairncross herself: her experience as a senior editor at The Economist and an economic columnist for The Guardian gives her plenty of insight into national business journals and broadsheets. But how aware is she of the paucity of the regional press, its lack of resources to staff local news properly, and its rapidly dwindling stature in the minds of most readers?

Steve Dyson, Hold The Front Page, 14.03.18

I’m a few days late to this particular party.

Steve Dyson’s blog re the recently announced Cairncross Review into the future of sustainable quality journalism.

Sustaining his own business beyond next summer will be vexing the mind of at least one of the panel’s esteemed members – JP chief executive Ashley Highfield who has a £220m bond repayment moment to find in the next 14 months lest the group fall total prey to Wall Street.

On a current market cap of, oooooh, £9.53m.

Whether Steve Tananbaum is on the list of invitees to said panel given his Golden Tree Asset Managament now hold the ‘whip hand’ in the future of Johnston Press and with it Ashley’s own repute industry-wise is just one of a number of intriguing questions for Dame Cairncross and Company to ponder.

Or quietly sweep under the Westminster carpet. As is the wont of these things.

I’m very much with Steve and his criticism of the make-up of the panel – particularly given the total lack of representation from the nation’s hyperlocal publishing community. Nor is much regard given to the local news industry. I’m quite sure Ashley would feel happier talking about circulation numbers of the ‘i’ as opposed to the Wigan Evening Post.

Down to 2,382. Or rather was in the final Qs of 2016. What it is now in Q1 18 is anyone’s guess.

But clearly you sense that London has more interest in finding a sustainable way forward for readers of the Economist, Guardian and Conversationalist than it has for letting the mums and dads of Wigan informed as to the latest OfSted report of their kids school.

Or is the assumption of London that parents in Wigan will go looking for said report off the official OfSted website themselves? After all, that’s no doubt what Dame Cairncross would do….

But to my mind there is a hugely significant cultural shift that looks to be wholly missing from the gathered media glitterati.

And that is from top down to bottom up.

Championed by Cindy Gallop at her keynote at GMG way back in 2012, the publishing world is shifting on its axis.

From top-down to bottom-up

Too many people, including the ad industry, believe the future is something that happens and just rolls them over in it’s wake. What’s around us currently is the death of the old top-down model of making things happen through hierarchies, organisations and institutions, and the growth of the bottom-up model – collaborative people power and collective action….

Taken from her keynote on redesigning the business of advertising, you would like to think that a penny might have dropped.

That the new world order people to talk to ply their trade bottom up, not top down.

And if further proof were needed, look at beer. Craft brew versus Budweiser.

What is happening there?

Read this from The Atlantic. On the strangest, happiest industry in the United States – the craft brewers who now out-sell Budweiser.

From the bottom up…

Quality and authentic local consumer content, locally sourced and served.

“Meanwhile, the best-selling beers in the country are all in steep decline, as are their producers. Between 2007 and 2016, shipments from five major brewers—Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Heineken, Pabst, and Diageo, which owns Guinness—fell by 14 percent. Goliaths are tumbling, Davids are ascendant, and beer is one of the unambiguously happy stories in the U.S. economy…

What lessons aren’t transferable to another local content industry here in the UK currently lacking belief, purpose and direction?

The lesson is in beer.

Quite why the Centre for Community Journalism and its recently launched Independent Community News Network aren’t deemed worthy of a place on the panel is one for the policy wonks at DCMS to answer for.

But they are the ones in the right place at exactly right time, whereas Ashley, my old pal….





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