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Even RD Blumenfeld did not envisage magic of internet journalism

PUBLISHED: 11:18 16 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:49 07 September 2010

LAST week I reflected on the writings of a former newspaper editor and veteran journalist, RD Blumenfeld, a well-thumbed copy of whose 1930s book, The Press In My Time, found its way into my Christmas stocking. RD s warnings about what the world could exp

LAST week I reflected on the writings of a former newspaper editor and veteran journalist, RD Blumenfeld, a well-thumbed copy of whose 1930s book, The Press In My Time, found its way into my Christmas stocking.

RD's warnings about what the world could expect from an international media given over to cynical commercial exploitation seemed to me to make him a man whose thoughts were years, if not decades, ahead of his time.

But even he could not have forseen a day when even the most modest journal could be read via the internet in any corner of the world, a time when a journalist tapping out his story in Tooting could have it read in Timbuktu within seconds of publication.

What would he make of the world wide web, I wonder, as we at Avenue Road proudly reflect that the Ham&High is now being read by more people in more places than at any stage of its illustrious history.

When actual newspaper sales everywhere are sinking faster than the Titanic, the dramatic expansion of newspaper journalism in electronic form is a great comfort to all of us who make a living from what RD described as 'these indispensable adjuncts to family life... guides, counsellors and friends'.

Just as Bob Dylan went electric in the 1960s, the Ham&High went into electronic production some 10 years ago, but it is in the last year in particular that our website viewing figures have soared to unprecedented levels.

Figures for 2008 show that close to 400,000 of what the statisticians refer to as 'unique visitors' came to our websites during the year and more than a million stories were viewed.

It's a sign of these modern times that if your name appeared in a Ham&High news story during 2008, it was quite possibly read by someone, somewhere, in a place you've never heard of - though I should point out that the vast majority of our electronic visitors, not surprisingly, are much closer to home, in London and the South East.

Still, there's something at least faintly exotic about knowing that the Ham&High these days is regularly read in places like Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Mauritius and Ethiopia.

RD Blumenfeld imagined many things, such as every national newspaper having its own aerodrome for the quicker assimilation of its printed product, but he can be forgiven for failing to even hint at the incredible tomorrow's world of internet journalism in which we now find ourselves.

Geoff Martin


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