Election 2015: How regional newspapers showed they are as relevant as ever in print

The 2015 general election was probably the first where the vast majority of local newspapers no longer printed on day.

While the assumption many made when papers switched to overnight printing was that the papers suffered as a result, I think the last 48 hours have shown this is wrong on two counts.

The first point to make is that a constantly changing pattern and picture on election night, and the morning after, means that trying to sell a local newspaper as the up-to-the-minute source of information in a world of Twitter, Facebook and rolling TV news is bonkers.

That’s what a newsroom’s digital service is for and across the country, regional newsrooms demonstrated that they were second to none when it comes to covering the elections from a local perspective (more on that tomorrow).

The second point to make is that newsrooms across the country rose to the challenge of ensuring their newspapers remained relevant by coming up with a multitude of of creative ways of telling the stories of the election, and the issues emerging from the ballots. Highlights for me included:

Setting the agenda without knowing the result:

friday leicester friday election cambridge These front pages of the Leicester Mercury and Cambridge News hit the streets on Friday, and rather than covering the results, sets out what needs to be done in the two respective cities.

Setting the agenda without knowing the result:

election birmingham The Birmingham Mail could have just reported David Cameron’s victory speech. Indeed, in the days of on-day printing, that is what would have been expected. But instead the Mail sought to respond to the victory speech by putting it into a Birmingham context. A clear salvo that the Mail is going to be fighting vocally for Birmingham in the months to come.

Weeklies don’t have to be last:

friday lincolnshire

The Lincolnshire Echo now comes out once a week on Thursdays – the worst possible day if you’re covering an election. Rightly, hundreds of newspapers focused on being number one online locally, but the Lincolnshire Echo decided it would produce a free 24-page edition which hit the streets on Friday.

The Camden New Journal also ran an 8am edition on Friday:

camden

Finding a great new line:

election paisley When your election count is one of the big talking points – as was the case for the Paisley Daily Express when a 20-year-old SNP student beat Douglas Alexander – taking the story forward can be a challenge. The Express did that when it discovered a special story behind the scarf seen in this picture.

A great headline:

election grimsby

Focusing on the local elections:

Saturday’s Express and Star carried local elections ahead of general election coverage with these editionised fronts:

Another great headline:

election stoke

And some great designs:

friday edinburgh friday bournemouth friday election friday aberdeen

But when there’s something bigger than the election taking place:

It was politics or a football cup final for the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle. Rightly, they chose politics. non election chronicle

And this is just a really clever front page:

non election argus A bit like the award-winning North West Evening Mail front page which created a photo using thousands of smaller ones, I like the way an online idea – which originated here as the Dear Photograph project – has been applied to a newspaper front page.

Saturday’s front pages from the regional press:

Some of the papers which chose to go for something other than the elections today:

And the ones on Friday – a combination of on-day printing, later deadlines or just really clever content which didn’t go out of date really fast:

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