Yes, it’s true. We’re off.

It’s a long story. And not being the most technically-minded, it’s something to do with Javascript and WordPress not getting on.

So we’re about to pack up our WordPress tents and set up a new camp – http://outwithabang.rickwaghorn.co.uk

And for those of you who get this delivered via an RSS ‘paper-boy’ it will means a change of address too…

Exisitng RSS feeds would need to be changed to http://outwithabang.rickwaghorn.co.uk/?feed=rss2 … our Ian tells me.

Why we moving so soon after we arrived? Well, we need to make a few changes to our living arrangements, to hang a few adverts on the wall. And we can’t do that here.

We want to introduce everyone to www.addiply.com. And we can’t do that here.

So, we’re off. See you all on the other side….

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There are many a theme that we seem to stumble across and these two pieces return to one of the more familiar – a digital landscape that, to my mind, will be defined by two compelling forces, local-stroke-hyper-local and national-stroke-global.

Here’s G-Cap Media shifting their radio tents every more into the latter camp… http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/24/gcapmedia.radio 

… and from the same Guardian Media page, here’s ITN getting in something of a lather about ITV’s decision to pull their tanks back off the local news lawns… http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/23/itv.television 

GCap’s decision will hit downtown Loddon; we’re part of Radio Broadland, a little local GCap off-shoot; I actually did an interview with Jo Chandler for them this afternoon… my thoughts on Norwich City’s pre-season tour to Sweden now you ask…

But someone in her building is about to get squeezed out of their usual slot to make way for some one-size-fits-all, homogenised show packaged up in a studio in London somewhere.

Clearly it’s a numbers game; that people are looking at their spread-sheets, consulting their triangles and making a call… as media fragments and traditional viewing, reading and listening habits shatter into so many pieces can we still afford do both? To be both local and national? To serve two audiences…

No, appears their answer; ITV, in fairness, are at least trying to cover a few of those regional bases with www.itvlocal.com but the foot-soldiers on the ground are going.

What’s interesting when you look at today’s latest set of ABCe figures is the way that both The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Guardian are beginning to move from a national UK platform into a global one as they find all these huge new audiences in the States… 

Equally, as they start to dip their toe into that water, to their delight they discover the likes of the New York Times and the Washington Post under-going a real identity crisis. There’s no sense of them returning the compliment and parking a tank or two in the UK; quite the reverse.

I read somewhere that the Post was pondering whether it shouldn’t retreat ‘inside the Beltway’ – which I presume is their M25 – ie just as the Guardian, Telegraph and Co ‘go global’, so the Post may be going back local.

But what The Guardian and The Telegraph are also keenly aware of is the opportunity that still exists on local lawns; what’s taxing them is how to do both; how to organise themselves with sufficient elegance and financial economy that they can be both big inside the Beltway and bigger in Belper.

Because you look through those same Guardian Media pages and there’s something else going on – amongst those that are neither one thing, nor the other; neither hyper-local nor national-stroke-global.

That’s where you don’t want to be; stuck in the middle; that’s the real no-man’s land; that’s where the first, big casualties will come. Just ask the good people of Belper, Stamford, Whittlesey and Deepings…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/24/trinitymirror.pressandpublishing

We’re clearly not there yet. We’ve still got a CMS to finish, Addiply to launch and the kids to run the beta trial version, but if there is a future then it lies with ripping up the old established order and starting all over again; giving something else a go…

In no particular order, www.mylocalwriter.com/stamford, www.mylocalwriter.com/deepings, www.mylocalwriter.com/belper, www.mylocalwriter.com/whittlesey

 

 

 

Actually it’s more a case of trying to work out how this thing works…

Anyway, welcome to Out With A Bang.

For which you need to blame-stroke-thank Paul Bradshaw, Pete Ashton and Banks’ Brewery who – quite correctly, with hindsight – pointed out a gaping hole in MFW’s armoury, a blog in the beery aftermath of last Friday’s JEECamp.

But one early word of warning, Out With A Bang is not going to touch on all things football. Or not much, anyway. That’s the day job; this is the late-at-night musings bit.

This is bit where we work out – in public – what on earth we’re ever going to do with MFW’s new big sister, www.mylocalwriter.com; how we can spread the gospel of www.addiply.com and, how, in short we can ever hope to make a difference when it comes to the survival of quality local journalism.

Hence the title. Cos if we are all engaged ‘in a race to the bottom’ as I was cheerily told by some BlogAds lad at Jeff Jarvis’ NewsInnovation.com bash in New York last autumn, let’s at least go down kicking and screaming; let’s not walk quietly into the night.

Let’s ask some awkward questions of our former lords and masters now that – perhaps – we’ve got one or two answers.

Or rather, got one or two answers as to what doesn’t work. As for what does, let’s just say that that, for now, remains very much a work in progress.

Doing the day job I do, you get to see an awful lot of the A14; hence you turn the music up loud. And on Thursday as I headed off to Paul’s JEECamp, it was The Smiths banging out of the dashboard. ‘Typical me, typical me… I’ve started something… and now I’m not so sure…’

Which probably is a good a theme tune for Out With A Bang as any.

That said, me and Martin Stabe agreed on one thing way back when – that if there is a message for our troubled times, then it comes from the lips of Clay Shirky.

And probably it is worth quoting in full as we go out with a bang. Because it changed my life. Whether it was the fact that I read it on my 40th birthday; whether it was because, at the time, there was a one-in-three redundancy process going through the sports and subs desks at Archant; whether I was just over-due a mid-life crisis… I don’t know.

But I know, one way or another – be it commercially or physically – Shirky’s words will follow me to my grave…

“In the same way that there’s a split between the music industry and the recording industry, there’s a split between writers and the newspaper industry.

“The recording industry is in trouble but the music industry is not, because musicians still make music and people still care about music enormously. The people who sell plastic circles with the music on it, on the other hand, are in real trouble.

“So if you base your business model on producing plastic circles, or, by analogy, staining wood with ink, you’re going to be in trouble.

“Do people care about good writing? Of course they do, and it’s the writers who can adapt to the new technologies. The only technological innovation that the newspaper industry is waiting for is a time machine so that it can turn back the clock.”

That’s it. That’s the straw we all need to cling to; that’s why I look at all the numbers we’re churned out at MFW over the last couple of years and cling to 436 seconds like you wouldn’t believe.

Why? Cos that’s the average visit time to www.myfootballwriter.com/norwichcity in the month of January ’08. We had 33,000 of them; on average visiting three and a bit times. And every time they visited they stayed for over 7 minutes.

Why are they staying for that long? It ain’t rocket science; we’re giving them a good read. About a subject that they love. A passionate niche that commands their attention for at least seven minutes of their frantic lives.

Because we deliver it to where they want it. On their office lap-top, their home PC and, above all, into the palm of their hand. Onto their mobile.

We don’t ask them to waste seven minutes of their lives going to find a newspaper…

Crass advertising slogan, but as you will come to know, I suspect, I’ve got an eight-year-old boy.

I look at him and you just know it’s not in his genes with a ‘g’ to read a local newspaper; what’s in his jeans with a ‘j’ is a mobile phone.

Or rather, will be. When his Mum says yes…

The trick that we’ve all got to pull as professional journalists is to get our words and our news to his mobile phone by a means that can earn us all a living.

But if there’s one first thought to cling to, it is to take Shirky’s words to heart. It’s not us that’s in danger of becoming an endangered species… it’s newspapers.

Sure our own reticence, our own conservatism is part of the problem, but some way down the line we will still be part of the solution. We just won’t need those who still insist on staining wood with ink.