Depressing news about @Newsshaft, and the lessons to learn

NewsShaft is closing: this is the depressing summary of their latest blog post.  Quite simply, they have no more money.

I like the NewsShaft podcasts – they offer a quirky, irreverent take on the news, and there are stimulating blog postings offering comment on news in between podcasts.

My small monthly contribution to Newsshaft – for most of us, it’s not very much! (image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ClydesdaleBank5obverseSp.png)

NewsShaft were created with plans for a Scottish TV/video news service, but these plans were scaled back as a result of the prohibitive costs involved in TV production.  I began a monthly contribution to them at this time, along with contributions to some other ‘new media’ organisations.  It seems too few others did likewise. It’s not clear to me why NewsShaft did not catch on – it offers intelligent comment, a good choice of guests, and innovative programming.

They have run crowd-funders – but this is not a sustainable way to run a business, especially when equipment and other costs are high, and the people involved need to make a living.

There has been much hype about the so-called ‘new media’ that emerged during and after the independence referendum in September 2014.  Frankly, I think a lot of this has been bluster.  The new media cannot survive unless it is financially solvent.  Lots of little people like me have blogs and comment endlessly on things – but I am not a journalist, and it is not my livelihood.  I write when I want, and few people would particularly care if I didn’t write.  If we want a proper news media that engages consistently and critically with the events around us, I strongly believe that

WE MUST PAY REAL MONEY FOR IT!

Carolyn Scott, reflecting on widespread job losses at the Herald & Times (publishers of The National, The Herald, Sunday Herald etc.) argued exactly this in a recent blog posting entitled If The National Can’t Survive What Chance Has New Media Got?  I buy The National, but these other sources offer something beyond what a newspaper does.

So, with NewsShaft sadly closing, take a moment to think about who or what you read or listen to regularly, and ask yourself how you think they are surviving.  Don’t assume we can counter the hegemony of conservative broadcasters and tax-evading newspaper owners with lots of wee blogs like this – they have their part to play, but we need much more!  Whether this be Bella Caledonia, CommonSpaceIndependence Live (and yes, they really need to change their name!) or The Ferret etc., think about whether you really can’t afford the price of a couple of cappucinos a month and give something to one or more of the outfits providing us with an alternative perspective on the world.

Don’t procrastinate on this: do it right now –
or NewsShaft will just be the first of many to go.

In the meantime, I sincerely hope Carolyn Scott, James Devoy and Jack Foster of NewsShaft find some other – financially viable! – outlet for their energy and talents.  Warm thanks to them for the enjoyable podcasts that I’ve listened to every week on my way to or from work – I will miss you!

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