National papers can’t do the Internet like we can – so they’re treating us like idiots
#SunNation and Us vs Th3m are not what us youths want or asked for
Admit it. You can’t remember the last time you bought a newspaper.
You didn’t read the crisp Guardian you bought to impress your flatmates during Freshers’. You didn’t see the Katie Hopkins column in whatever paper it was, you just saw the Change.org link.
You don’t buy a newspaper. Who would? The free Daily Telegraph with a bottle of WHSmith’s Evian could wallpaper a bungalow.
Even i at a measly 40p is completely pointless. You read today’s yesterday, and you’ll read tomorrow’s today. On your phone. On Twitter. On Facebook. On the BBC News app.
Either you don’t have time for papers or you just don’t care.
This, understandably, is terrifying the big media organisations who’ve been shaping the zeitgeist since the Queen was still a brunette.
The only way our cast of Dickensian press barons are going to stop it is by expanding their output to deal with a huge emerging audience who aren’t going to buy their papers even once, let alone everyday.
You’ll have seen the utterly risible and completely depressing result. It’s polluting your news feed with a gloopy, pre-teen conversational tone which nobody has ever actually had a conversation in, and GCSE ICT execution.
Us vs Th3m. #SunNation. Biffed. Row Zed. Project Babb.
A cursory glance of five seconds at any of these website proves our media giants – The Mirror, The Sun, Sky and the Telegraph – have given up on trying to be meaningful or relevant to the people whose changing habits could push them further and further out into the cold.
In fact, a cursory five seconds is all they think you’re capable of. Forget proper news or comment. Forget wanting to know about the world around you, or valuing knowledge or paragraphs for their own sake.
You’re under 25. You’re dead-eyed, overweight and listless. You like funny gifs and funny photoshops and relating to things and chatting with your mates on MSN Messenger and shareable content and trainers and chilling. Or so they think.
Ours is a generation now completely starved of seriousness. Brought up on Turkey Twizzlers, they know that we’re too stupid to get news. But what do we get instead?
We get a shoddy page full of “LOLs” from the Mirror, bad Photoshops from The Sun, broken English from Sky News which ends every sentence with “awkward”, and a page full of dull football anecdotes hidden somewhere on the Telegraph’s website.
Stuck between the rock of not understanding what it’s like to not be in their forties and the hard place of still wanting to peddle their agenda with the clout and popularity which made them newspapers wot won it, they’ve adopted a weird one-dimensional vision of the internet which starts and ends at BuzzFeed.
But while Buzzfeed are pouring time, money and effort into producing perversely readable journalism written in sentences with adverbs and subordinate clauses, the old mainstream are giving us a nightmare in pastel colours and inanity.
In trying to build new online personalities around a dictionary definition of “fun”, they succeed only in betraying one of desperation.
Despite what they say, this isn’t “humorous” or “satire”. It’s just close-minded and cynical.
In between Tory press releases and stinging broadsides against anyone left of Eric Pickles, #SunNation (viral!) spews forth listicles about nothing and specialises in those quizzes where you can tell which answers get you which result before you’ve even started.
Visit the site and you’ll find “19 random things Ed Miliband probably thinks are David Cameron’s fault”.
It consists solely of references to zeitgeist favourites like Game of Thrones, “that eclipse last month”, brushing your teeth (we all do that!), iPhones (we’ve all got one!), One Direction (one for the girls!) and football (one for the boys!) – and written in the charmless pidgin of “random”, “probably”, “best video you’ll see today” and “really” which exists nowhere else but the internet.
Stop the focus group. I want to get off.
Of course The Sun are having a go at Red Ed. It’s what they’re for – and they’re good at it. But there cannot be anyone who seriously thinks this shit is funny.
This shouldn’t be how the UK’s biggest newspaper tries to convince young people Miliband was wrong to say Cameron was at fault for refugees dying in the Mediterranean.
The uniquely joyless Us vs Th3m (cool name!) page on the Mirror’s website is old media’s pitch to the nineties frozen in aspic. There is no news. It’s proudly mediocre.
Don’t worry about the Islamic State or the economy. Have a grainy gif of the Crystal Maze and read about the world championships in parallel parking or somebody sending poo in the post instead.
This is tragic. What these sites could have offered as good, readable, interesting journalism becomes a sideshow – cast into the shade by the Nigel Farage drinking game, shit memes about UKIP and a piece on the party leaders’ horoscopes – or an eyesore infographic, a piecemeal listicle with no nuance begging “Share me!” but doesn’t care if you read past the first sentence.
In February, the Labour MP Dan Jarvis wrote for the Mirror – the grown up bit. His op-ed was entitled “Young people feel betrayed by this government – it’s time to give them a voice”.
Judging by #SunNation and Us vs Th3m newspapers obviously don’t want to.
This isn’t print finally embracing digital. This isn’t the election which will finally be decided by new media and memes.
This is David Brent walking back into the office with a leather jacket and an earring – imploring you to love him. Ask him what make he’s wearing and he won’t say “Sergio Georgini”.
He’ll say “social media”.