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The News Agents and Piers Morgan - Do Ratings Matter?

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Matt Crowhurst, associate director at Here Be Dragons, discusses the balance between traditional and digital media

The News Agents and Piers Morgan - Do Ratings Matter?

I was listening to a recent episode of The News Agents (the relatively new podcast from Global featuring ex-BBC heavyweights Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall) this week, who had Piers Morgan on as a guest. I know, I know but, against my better judgment, I did keep listening.

Amongst the posturing, and media navel-gazing, was a genuinely interesting discussion around ratings, channels, news, and what success looks like in the current media landscape.

The main line of argument from Piers, in response to questioning around low Talk TV ratings, was that his scoops (Trump flouncing off, Ronaldo dropping the bomb about his treatment at Man United) resulted in millions of eyeballs through their virality and “stickiness” with traditional media. What he meant by this was that, even though his ratings on Talk TV were barely 100,000 viewers, the interviews themselves racked up millions of views through YouTube clips, placement of stories in The Sun and New York Post, and other social media clips circulating the various platforms.

I have to say it slightly blunted the argument thrown at him by Emily Maitlis, who laughed at how he barely knew the channel number people could find his network on. Does it really matter? Is it actually the strength of the story, and the interviewing technique, that’s the focus here? Like him or loathe him, Piers knows how to dig out the news.

Which leads us to a bigger question. In a world where print media circulation is in decline, broadcast is stable at best, and all evidence points to increased social media use, what does success truly look like? Would social media be such a big success if it wasn’t being driven by the traditional media cycle, or, at least big beasts from within the traditional media space?

The future is digital, but in my mind, good old-fashioned news, and those who know how to disseminate it, will always be the key.

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Here Be Dragons, Tue, 22 Nov 2022 10:58:00 GMT