This week, the Economist published an article about the rapid decline of clubbing in the UK. It seems that young men and women who frequented these establishments in the recent past can no longer afford to go out for a night of drinking and debauchery. Revenues in the country’s night club industry have declined a half billion dollars since 2007.
Just in front of that article however, was another pointing out that “young Britons have turned responsible.” Drug use has remained steady for people older than 25, but has declined from 21 percent to 11 percent since 1998, coinciding with the economic decline. Young men and women are even engaging in the concept of traditional marriage and foregoing more promiscuous lifestyles.
So what has this got to do with the state of the media?
Well, one of the industrial outgrowths of Britain’s wild and wooly times has been an explosion of (cough) men’s (clear throat) magazines and websites. When more “traditional” press was bleeding money and readers in the past decade, the soft-core porn publications were booming and their subject matter were household names. But in recent years, the traditional press has been holding their own while the high-flying nudie’s have been crashing, including the venerable Daily Star newspaper, of Page 3 girl fame.
This is in a country where religious affiliation among the Anglo-Saxon majority has been dropping steadily for several decades. The influx of Muslims and Eastern European Catholics, notwithstanding, you would think that morality would not just be in the crapper but well on it’s way down the sewer line. What it seems, though, is that economics has stepped in as the moderator of morality in “Jolly, Olde” and it is affecting businesses that have capitalized on the opposite position.
I think this is a good lesson for media to learn. Especially in this country. We have a consumer media focused on the lowest common denominator (e.g. Honey Boo Boo) and a consuming public generally distrustful of media. Those in charge say they are merely giving the public what it wants, but I’m beginning to question that. The UK shows that after decades of “giving people what they want,” is destroying their future business and they are, in fact, losing money on “what people want.”
Maybe it’s time to find out if, in reality, that is what they want. And maybe even try to figure out what they actually need.