Could excessive drinking be part of the reason why the media industry is in such a bad state?
In his book "Sex, murder and bad management" Trygve Aas Olsen argues that the paper's heavy drinking culture must take a huge share of the blame for Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet's many woes, including declining readership and fragile financial situation.
Aas Olsen, who himself worked for the paper - which market position can best be compared to The Mirror in the UK - for more than a decade, is now the media editor of financial daily Dagens Næringsliv. His new book promises to explain the reasons for the once proud liberal newspaper's fall and has stirred much debate among Norwegian media pundits - attracting both critique and praise.
Since I haven't read the book myself yet, I don't feel in a position to say much about whether or not it succeeds in describing the reasons for the newspaper's current woes. However, if the drinking culture at Dagbladet has been so detrimental, I wonder why British newspapers haven't gone to the dogs a decade or more ago.
I must admit that while working in London (early this deacade) the culture of drinking during lunch hours shocked me slightly and never sat well with me, but as one of my mentors was the late John Coyle, one of Fleet Street's and the City's more legendary drinkers, I've heard more than my share of drinking stories from the 70s, 80s and 90s.
It's also interesting to note that Aas Olsen argues the drinking was heaviest during "the golden age" in the 70s and 80s. This has spurred at least one commenter to argue it's the other way around, "moderate drinking" can only benefit journalism, and that journalists today have become incredibly boring from not drinking (link in Norwegian).
Which leads me to this amazing quote in today's Journalisten (equivalent of NUJ's The Journalist and one of my former employers. The article is not online yet) by Dagbladet commentator Gudleiv Forr:
"He [Aas Olsen] seems to argue that the drinking was heaviest during the golden age in the 1970s and 80s. I think the drinking is just as steady today. But we drank Upper Ten, which made us a lot more creative than what they become from alcohol today as they mostly drink wine and beer. Whisky is best for editorial inventiveness."