The morning after the night before: How the regional Press responded to Brexit

Brexit bournemouth

The events of the early hours of June 24 – when it was confirmed that Britain had voted by a narrow margin to leave the EU – are still causing shockwaves three weeks on.

This was arguably a unique news event, one of national and international importance, yet also incredibly local too. As such, there should perhaps be no surprise that the story of Brexit made it on to pretty much every regional newspaper front page on Saturday.

Many regional papers had booked on-day print slots to cover events as they unfolded over breakfast, when the result of the referendum was due. As well as the result, those titles got David Cameron’s resignation on to the front page too.

I’m not sure I buy the significance reported on Holdthefrontpage of these regional titles ‘scooping the national print titles’ to the news of Cameron resigning. It feels a bit like praising the Co-op for selling more milk that Asda at 9pm on a Sunday, when the Co-op is open and Asda is not. The real battle for eyeballs in a breaking news situation like this is no longer in print, but online.

During early parts of Friday, June 24, up to 50% of the article page views generated on the sites I work with were EU Referendum-related, which showed how the real secret weapon the regional press had online was the ability to present Brexit news to a local audience, mindful of the local audience’s emerging views.

Of course, that’s not to say that getting up-to-date information out to readers in print isn’t an incredibly useful way to sell extra newspapers, and those lucky enough to have such a slot certainly made the most of it.

But it was Saturday’s front pages I was more interested in. With 24 hours of wall-to-wall coverage on the broadcast media and online, more news breaks in one day than we’ve had for a long time and social media providing an instant platform for opinions, the challenge for the local press was to take the story forward.

Of the papers I could find, only one or two didn’t splash on Brexit. Those which did splash on it took a range of approaches, mainly underpinned by presenting things from a local perspective and asking: “What next?”

Looking at the newspaper front pages, and knowing the real-time coverage which had been carried on websites over the previous 24 hours, I think it’s fair to say that the weekend of Brexit was a weekend to be proud of the regional press.

See also: 15 of the most impressive ways to tell the story of Brexit locally

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