Where’s Daphne?

It’s Thursday. Normally a DCG day on the Independent. There’s young Henri Caruana (from forum Malta ghall-Ewropa) giving us a factoid article about the free skies (I wonder if anyone at Air Malta read it), there’s Clare Azzopardi from the NECC reminding us that we are now in the heart of Europe, but there’s no sign of DCG.

With all due respect to Henri and Clare, the articles in the Indy are nothing more than research assignments. There’s not much that smacks of opinion column in them. Gradually the Indy is slipping into being an executive magazine. Throw in some articles from the News Syndicates, get some footie geek to scrounge up a sports page, a little bit of classified and one or two news items on the front page: ta-da it’s the Indy. Daphne remains (remained?) the only reason to read the paper (and I do not say buy it because the net suffices).

I have been told once or twice about the economic weight behind the existence of the Indy. Businessmen need their daily voice it seems. Good enough. But when the boat starts to sink you end up quoting blog posts in full (and not one but at least four) on your Sunday rather than the more conventional paragraph/phrase quotes (accompanied by commentaries) that has become the habit on the international press. I’ve seen village papers in Kent with more interesting items overall than in the Indy. Something must be amiss… do we smell the demise of another paper?

And for heaven’s sake… where’s Daphne? Now there’s someone who should have their own blog by now.

PS: And the first one to describe Friday Wisdom as an interesting column gets to listen to the MLPN anthems for a hundred times without pause.

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6 responses to “Where’s Daphne?

  1. The only real edge that The Times has over the The Independent for my money is that it is more exhaustive and carries more news for the record. Nothing is pointless and dull enough for The Times considering not running it. A helpful illustration of this was today’s center page photo spread of a selection of paintings of hackneyed Maltese scenes by a pair of talentess foreign duffers. Anyone can fill up a paper if you consider that worthy of publication.
    For all its shortcomings, it seems to me that the Independent does (sometimes) strive to editorialise its news content and set an agenda, instead of reproducing press releases and retelling court hearings practically verbatim.
    But sadly, the blog post pilfering incident illustrates what is so wrong about the Indy, and the rest of the Maltese media system. The Indy sees blog content only as a space-filler instead of trying to actually engage with the ethos of interactivity. In spite of its web site revamp, The Times has managed to pretty much bugger up its foray into web 2.0, which should give The Indy the impetus to improve on the effort. That would mean they could then reproduce exchanges on their own site instead lifting material en bloc.
    The Indy’s ultimate failure, and it is questionable it could ever have been successful in this regard, is that it has never really succeeded in giving The Times a run for its money. I have often wondered if there is a niche in the local market for a free giveaway paper. These have seriously eroded the readership of established dailies in strong newspaper markets like Britain and promoted newspaper reading in Italy, where circulations are proportionately lower. As the annual rush of crowds to the Trade Fair demonstrates, Maltese people love free crap and a newspaper with a circulation of even 15-20,000 could probably make its money back on additional advertising revenue.
    I would have thought that would be a more interesting option for the Indy’s weekday edition to consider before ever contemplating shutting up shop.

  2. Vlad. Long time no post. I tend to agree with your assessment. Most of all I also believe that a proper giveaway paper would do the trick. I doubt whether any of the dailies’ revenue is dependent on circulation (as in income from actual sales of copies). They could stock up with the same info and more by running a giveaway. On the other hand most giveaways have succumbed to the extremely short, school paper style articles. In Luxembourg there are two such papers one of which is http://www.lessentiel.lu. Again I do think that there are more cons than pros to switching to a giveaway in Malta. People do not buy their dailies.

    Even the lawyering crowd tends to just steal a glance at the papers when having their snack at the various Valletta eateries… and what do you call a lawyer without a proper daily under his arm as he patrols the street with briefcase and brolly in hand?

    You call him a Maltese lawyer.

  3. Ostja, I posted only yesterday. What do you want? Blood?
    As far as the newspaper issue goes, the crucial issue is whether a giveaway daily could develop a business model that pesuaded its advertisers. I’m not sure what the logisitics would be, but the free newspaper does often work, even among the uninterested lawyerly crowd. Not that lawyers are necessarily the core readership that will save the Indy, mind you.
    You put a stand of free papers in shops, bars, restaurants and I’m certain the thing would disappear pretty quick. If the economics of it was sound, I am also confident the quality (sic) would not suffer unduly.
    What I find particularly gratifying about this exchange it that it is probably being read right now in the offices of the Independent, though I’ll be surprised if they use it.

  4. Really? Must update my feeds then… you must have slipped off the radar at some point. Whatever the case re: freebie I am sure that it can be worked out. Distribution seems to be a key concern judging by how various magazines are currently riding on the back of the dailies (by being distributed with the Times etc). We lack a metro or an efficient transport system – in the meantime the only freebie that comes to mind is the Xarabank paper distributed on the buses – but to whom is a big question mark. Too many issues to factor in: quality vs target readership vs distribution vs adverts.

    By then most readership will probably have switched to the net and the mobile anyway – and we might be the only ones still interested in the paper media.

    P.S. Hello to anyone from the Indy reading this piece. It is all done in goodwill. Promise. The more of us around… the merrier. Tata. Off to try out Pilates… might be dead by tonite!

  5. Pilates????? hahahaha! Oh I would love to see you at it…. 😛

  6. Went for the first time yesterday. It’s actually good exercise in a fun way. Plus the instructor is super fit – so I booked a one-on-one session for Sunday… howzat for enthusiasm?

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