As we know, mainstream news brewers such as the BBC are deeply concerned about an internet trend towards real news. As yet they are resisting calls to brew real news themselves, insisting that their fizzy, pasteurised concoctions are what the market demands. This is due to their traditional reluctance to tell the hoi polloi what is going on plus an understandable reluctance to find out first.
It’s all down to cost you see. As with almost all other products, real news is expensive to produce and mainstream news brewers find it far more cost effective to satisfy their readers with the ersatz variety. Guardian readers have even been known to make a virtue of preferring ersatz news to the real thing, a kind of inverse snobbery like the glottal stop or pretending that yoghurt pots can be recycled.
It comes as no surprise when mainstream outlets for mass-produced news fight back against the Real News Campaign, claiming it isn’t news at all and certainly cannot be classed with that virtually unobtainable product, so-called “genuine news.”
Yet more sophisticated tastes are more demanding. We see that in so many areas of life and it isn’t about to go away. The trend towards a more demanding public has deep roots. One has only to recall the demise of Watneys Red Barrel, a pasteurised beer foisted on the public in the nineteen sixties and early seventies. Eventually beer drinkers tired of drinking fizzy brown aqueous alcohol and demanded something more genuine.
Now the wheel turns again and the Watneys Red Barrel phenomenon has morphed into a similar problem with ersatz news. Currently mainstream news is cheap to brew and entirely designed around mass production for an undiscerning market. Increasingly it won’t do but mainstream news brewers have not prepared themselves for the added costs and complications of a more sophisticated product such as real news.
For the discerning news consumer, real news is an altogether more satisfying product. Crafted from traditional values and often literate it is made with care and a degree of honesty entirely unknown to the behemoths of the news market. Will the big guys go the way of Watneys Red Barrel or will they come up with a real news product of their own? If they do come up with a real news product how will they report it?