Having a normally smooth and beautiful urban life is part of our big city dreams. A tiny example of that is having newspapers available, readable and appealing. In most of the world’s major cities like New York, London and Paris, newspapers still represent the most widely distributed written medium. While in some less fortunate cities, people seek online media because they can’t find the high-quality newspapers nor are they accessible.
Now how is it like to check the papers in Egypt?
Below Average, On Average
Do you think this is a harsh judgement? We’re talking content, editing, design and quality paper. It’s hard to find a couple of papers that are within acceptable quality ranges in all or most of the dimensions mentioned above. One would be great in one or two, but too bad in the rest. On average, newspapers are below average. This explains why people turn to online media in Egypt more than then in the developed world. Isn’t this alerting?
Categorized, Too Categorized
Split between parties, regime, allies and competitors, newspapers in Egypt show an extreme categorization of what is being edited in them. This is not about being specialized. Specialization is great. Fitness, beauty, politics, business papers, this is good. What’s alerting is how extreme each bunch of papers are.
Sometimes You Hate the Free Market
Because the free market economy has allowed and encouraged competition. This means more and more, sometimes incompetent, newspapers would pop up. While this is beneficial to the market in general, it’s really boring to be hammered by a thousand incompetent newspapers that are in fact competing in who would be more incompetent than the other.
How come you’d pay for the newspapers in Egypt more than you would in New York City? If charged, people wouldn’t read the papers in the US, maybe. They’ll find it online. Smart move decades ago: distribute for free and sell more ads with higher impression power. In Egypt, both models work. You pay for the papers and the paper will sell as many ads. There is a very high demand, which explains why the more papers the merrier for Egyptians.
But is it sane to dream of a world where Egyptian newspapers are less numerous and of higher quality?
Competition should oust incompetent ones. This is not happening. Somehow, people just accept the low quality and don’t find a substitute. (Substitute is an alternative source of news other than other competing newspapers. e.g. online media.)
End result: more and more incompetent newspapers, ruining yet another side of our dream urban life.
Of course! It takes only one competent world-class quality newspaper to turn down all incompetent ones. Seems that for this one newspaper to oust all competition it should be free of charge and depend in its revenue stream on advertising. Should also have its strong online presence, not just a bunch of bot-based Twitter accounts that post silly stuff.