You know, like my good friend Alison Gow, I often ponder the future of the news industry.
It’s all very well the likes of me telling you all what I think about Gok Wan and plastic domes, but if it weren’t for the plucky efforts of green eye-shaded editors and thrusting reporters with notebooks in their pockets the likes of me would be telling you all about the contents of my pockets, or wondering aloud why the alphabet is in the order it’s in.
Now, one of the things about newspapers is that, when you’re reading them in public, you are acting as an advert for the publication. You may think you’re just sitting there reading, but you’re not. Oh, no.
People, other people, are looking at the front page of your paper and thinking “Goodness me, Amy Winehouse looks a bit of a fright” or “Gosh, that’s clever, the way they’ve used a picture of a sandal next to a twig to vividly depict the plight of the endangered Cambodian tiger under the headline In The Name Of All That’s Holy . . . WHY?” (if you’re reading The Independent).
“Gracious,” the next thing they think is. “He/she is getting a top-quality news service from the Mirror/Times/Beanotown Echo. I must buy a copy myself, post haste.” Then they pop to the shop and buy a paper and help in a small way to pay for the livelihood of journalists.
Of course, when we’re all reading our news on our iPhones or Amazon Kindles or whatever other mad device they’re about to dream up, how are the online newspapers going to advertise themselves? They can only coast on past reputation for so long. The hits will dry up, the advertisers will walk away and there’ll be no news.
Blogs will be like this.
That would be a catastrophe. What we need is someone to come along and save the news and, by extension, the internet itself. That someone is me.
For a reasonable fee, payable by the world’s various news organisations, I will employ a small army of professional Noseybonks (TM).
These ladies and gentlemen will travel on public transport, look over the shoulders of those using internet viewing devices, and shout out things like “This man is reading http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/. It is a story about the trams.” or “This lady is reading the Daily Mail. It is a story about how women should look nice and know their place.”
“Goodness me,” the other passengers would say, “I shall point my browser at that site straightaway.” And the problem would be solved.
Now, I can hear the civil liberties lobby*. They’re saying “What about civil liberties?” as is their wont. Fair enough, I say. What if somebody’s reading http://www.ladiesintheirpants.co.uk/, or the Daily Telegraph? They won’t want people shouting about it on the bus or train.
Simple, I will be supplying, for a reasonable fee, high-visibility yellow tabards, bearing the legend “I’m reading some questionable internet content”. Then, if they’re reading something a bit spicy, they can slip the tabard on and the Noseybonks (TM) will pass them by.
It would definitely work. I think I’ve been touched by genius.
*I can, too. Ironically I’ve bugged them.