The Scottish Referendum: 10 lessons for journalism

Scotland voted no….

The Scottish referendum will live long in the memory of the journalists who covered it. But as the dust settles and the devolution negotiations kick on, I’ve pulled together a list of things the referendum can teach us about political journalism and where it’s heading….


Mapped: Front pages inspired by the Tour de France in England


THE Tour De France’s Grand Depart was big news last week – showing off parts of the UK at their very best to a global audience of millions.

Once in a lifetime events are the sort of challenges newsrooms everywhere love rising to, so, a week after the Tour, he’s a selection of the front pages the Tour generated as it passed through Yorkshire, spent moments in Greater Manchester, and an afternoon between Cambridge and London.

You can either view them on the maps below by clicking the icons, or look at a gallery at the foot of this post.


If he looks like Luis Suarez and bites like Luis Suarez … a CCTV still destined to go viral


Luis Suarez ‘copycat’ incidents have been all over the national press today, perhaps blowing the ‘footballers aren’t paid to be role models’ argument out of the water once and for all.

But spare a thought for the man police are seeking in relation to a biting incident in Manchester which occurred four months ago.

He has the misfortune to bare a passing resemblance to said biting footballer … and as a result, what should have been a bog standard police appeal has suddenly gained much more momentum:


The newspaper letter of complaint which became front page news

Criminals contacting their local newspaper to complain about accuracy of articles are the stuff of legend in newsrooms around the country.

In many cases, they might be on the wrong side of the law, but how they come across in the newspaper is very important.

In the case of on-the-run burglar Darrell Burbeary, the complaint centred around what the police were saying about him.

So cross was he about what the police put in an appeal which was published in the Sheffield Star, that he wrote to the Star:



We’ve had the man who went for the mask to try and dodge photographers outside court and became a social media sensation after his mask became the story.

Then there was the man who thought the best way to blend in with the crowd was to wrap a copy of the newspaper he was likely to appear in around his head as he left court.

And if we need proof that trying to dodge the cameras only tends to make the story even bigger, here’s perhaps the best case yet.

Step forward Janet Curtis, a benefits cheat:


D Day remembered: Front pages from the regional press 70 years on

ww2bournemouthdailyechoFriday marked the 70th anniversary of D Day, and as time goes on the chance to remember the heroic actions of thousands of men and women with them diminishes. As we have seen with the anniversaries relating to World War I over the last 20 years, each occasion involves fewer and fewer of the people who can actually remember what happened every time they close their eyes.

There are few things the regional press do better than capturing the mood of such occasions, and clearing the space for those memories to be shared with the next generations.


Dear Nick Clegg, if you think you’ve got it bad, then please read on

Poor old Nick Clegg. Damned for apparently abandoning his principles when the hooked the Lib Dems into the coalition and now damned for sticking to his guns in the European elections by (whisper it) saying being in Europe might not be a bad thing.

He’s got Vince Cable saying one thing in support but apparently saying something completely different between the lines, vocal Peers releasing what appears to be remarkably unreliable polling reports, and, according to various reports, the subject of a really badly planned leadership coup.


There are some headlines you only ever get to write once in a career. The Newcastle Chronicle just published one of them

There are some journalists who believe the digital revolution has killed the art of headline writing.

You won’t be surprised to read that I disagree (especially if you read this post I wrote back in 2009 and this one a tad more recently) with that theory – although there’s no doubt it’s changed what makes a good headline for good.

Great digital headlines are ones which tell enough of the story to make you want to read more, mix in search engine optimisation where possible and, preferably, prompt a reaction in someone so that they can’t resist visiting.

And the best digital headlines are probably the ones you’ll only ever get to write once in your career. For that, you need a story which generates the same reaction once shared online that it did when it first arrived in the newsroom.

And this is perhaps the best example I’ve seen:


The vox pop which sums up the biggest problem facing European politics

As Jeremy Vine prepares to prove the point that just because you can shouldn’t mean you should when it comes to going over the top with graphics people simply can’t understand, one local newspaper I’ve seen this week found a much better way to get to the heart of the biggest issue facing the European Parliament.

Millions of words have been written by heavyweight political journalists about the issues swirling around today’s European election polls, politicians have put in thousands of miles trying to meet real people and convince us all they have the answers to Europe, and reporters around the country have put many man hours into trawling through Twitter and Facebook to look for an indiscreet comment or two or turn into a story.

But the Whitby Gazette vox pop asks the question which, for me, cuts straight to the heart of why there is so much voter apathy around the European elections: