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Sunday 6 May 2007

My good mate Matthew Taylor (see 'Matthew Taylor is an ignoramus') is on the Board for a new website.

Newscounter is a new right to reply service for people and organisations to respond to controversial press stories. This should stimulate debate about public trust and the role of the media in society

The site allows you to:
  • petition to call for a response to controversial press stories
  • Read a response to a story
  • petition on which side of the story you find more persuasive

This should already give you an idea of whom it appears aimed at — the literate, the already blogging, those who understand that statement.

The site appears to follow the Telegraph's design lead. Huge headlines, small text. It's usability is baaaad.

I'm also really unclear who the audience will be. It appears to be just another forum for organisations to spin against negative media, when those organisations should really be out on the web and using other tactics to counter negative media if they've got any sense.

One of the few sensible arguments made for it is that it's a repository for counter-spin, it's making it easier to find it. Well shouldn't that be what organisations use their own websites for?

I can see a business case, can imagine the lot behind it managing to sign some people up to pay the wages (The Register reports "The website launches in true old media style with a breakfast briefing in Soho's Groucho Club").

But it harks back again to my main point in talking previously about Taylor — they want to replicate the web and build walled gardens, and that will fail.

If your organisation is being bad-mouthed would your entire PR strategy revolve around this website? No? I didn't think so.

And of course if you're complaining about The Guardian, there's already a right-of-reply and a Reader's Editor.

Perhaps they should be campaigning for the rest of the media to act like The Guardian? Too hard? Less profitable?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your thoughts.

    The readers editor in the Guardian is a good thing - although from our research - it would still appear difficult to get the Guardian to correct misleading statements.

    However, lots of other newspapers chose not to do this and I'm not convinced that some would be persuaded by a campaign. However, we do support the Media Standards Trust which is doing excellent work.

    Part of what newscounter is concerned about though, is the wider impact of how a misleading news report spreads across other media - broadcast, international blogs etc.

    Personally, I'm not sure the odd 'walled garden' on the internet is such a bad thing!