Thursday, 13 August 2015

Rally - MSN's 60th!


Yesterday’s Motorsport News was well worth it’s cover price of £3.99, I’ve spent more on a pint of beer in the past. The 120 page special issue marked the 60th anniversary of weekly reporting on all things motor sport. In these days of mega pixels and touchscreens, smart phones and tablets, finger swiping and scrolling screens, there is something intrinsically comforting about the tactile feel of a newspaper. 

It could be argued that I’m biased, or at least have a vested interest, since I have been contributing to it for over 40 years. Some may think I do it for the money. The truth is, the fees rarely cover the expenses, let alone the time. So why do I do it? I really have no idea. It’s more than just a habit. It’s more of a compulsion.

My big fear is that we might lose it. And if we do lose our last weekly motor sports newspaper, there won’t be another. The days of newsprint are fast coming to an end and that will be our, and the sport’s, loss.

The one comforting factor about newsprint is that the author’s name is inked on the page alongside the copy. The reader therefore has some assurance regarding the accuracy of the information and in the case of ‘opinionated views’ knows where they are coming from. With regard to the internet, many folk are not quite so sure about the source and accuracy of the information, so there are always doubts.

Unfortunately, the Newsprint industry is still facing its impending demise. Sales of all print titles are down as the public turn to electronic devices and ‘rolling news’.

Admittedly, there is a place for it, if you have a suitable device with the right software, or the correct app - and you remember to charge it up before you drop your trousers and sit down on the loo seat for the weekly news catch-up.

The newspaper still has a lot going for it. It is easily folded and transportable, doesn’t require a mains charger to be carried or charged up regularly. It has a full colour interface which is automatically switched on the second you open it. It is menu driven and each page is numbered for easy navigation, and it is also much easier to scroll down and across pages. And if you drop it, it won’t break.

We can all argue about content and complain that articles are shorter than they once were, but that’s because there are fewer adverts – the internet has gobbled up most of that business now. In the past, advertising revenue covered all the basic production costs while the cover price paid for the distribution costs.

Look at it from another point of view. Where else can you get a weekly update of all that is happening in motor sport, from Rallying to Formula 1, from personality interviews to the occasional argumentative columnist? There is also a certain degree of comfort to be had from the knowledge that there will be another update next week produced by familiar names in a recognisable format.

Because for sure, one day it won’t happen. When, is entirely up to you.

As I said, I’m biased, but one thing’s certain, I’ll be distraught if it happens.

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