It would be morally wrong for Jeremy Corbyn to quit if he loses the election


Whenever there is a general election, almost as soon as the result is announced it’s now assumed that the losing leader will quit.

In fact, you have to go back as far as 1987 – when Neil Kinnock failed to dislodge Margaret Thatcher from Number 10 – to find a leader of one of the two major parties who carried on through to the next election.

The jungle drums are already beating over what Jeremy Corbyn should quit when/if Labour fails to wrestle the keys to Number 10 from Theresa May’s hands early next month.

Continue reading

Regional journalism’s digital tipping point: Are we there yet?

zig zag
It’s been a back and forth journey, but has regional journalism reached its digital tipping point?

When people speak to the digital tipping point, they tend to be talking about revenue, of the moment when digital revenue growth replaces fully the loss of print cash. Definitions of what that looks like, and what is contained within each pot, vary widely.

I’m not looking at that in this post – but instead journalism’s digital tipping point. As in that moment when digital journalism is so second-nature to people within regional newsrooms that it isn’t a special thing anymore, but just the done thing.

How you evaluate that obviously is open to interpretation. You will find editors who point to the long journey their newsrooms have been on, and will say their newsrooms are indeed digital. You will also find editors who point to the things they still need to become truly digital.

And then you will find many people playing in the shades of audience first/reader first/digital first/print last and applying labels to what they do.

For me, the platform is irrelevant. Journalism’s biggest challenge isn’t around being digitally-savvy, it’s around being audience-savvy, and making sure readers sit at the heart of everything we do. After all, without them, we’re nothing.

Continue reading

The most important questions a journalist can ask

Journalism works best when it is read by people. It’s not about clicks, it’s about being relevant and meaningful to people. Get that right, and journalism’s ability to hold the powerful to account and generally make a difference is all the greater.

After several decades of newspaper sales decline, digital journalism offers us the chance to reconnect with readers who, for whatever reason, don’t consider buying a newspaper to be a daily habit anymore.

Continue reading

Social: Shouting about trust




On Friday, something a little special happened within the regional Press. An industry built on journalistic competition came together across the country with one aim: To shout about our most special asset: Our trusted journalism.

In an age of fake news, misinformation, disinformation and of suspicion or contempt for anything outside the personal social bubble, regional journalism could probably be accused of not doing enough to shout about why it is still a trusted source of news and information.

Over the past 10 days, titles from publishers across the country have run a campaign called ‘Fighting Fake News’ which sought to spell out the processes the regional Press has in place to ensure that the news published is as accurate as can be. Of course, there will always be mistakes – but part of the campaign was explaining what happens when mistakes do happen, and that the regional Press never sets out to mislead.

Last Friday was ‘interactive day’ for the campaign, with dozens of newsrooms using the hashtag #trustednewsday to give readers an insight into what we do. Every journalist has probably experienced the multitude of questions people ask about what we see as mundane parts of our job when we reveal what we do for a living. #trustednewsday tapped into that sense of curiosity.

Of course, there were difficult messages coming back from readers. The curse of Fake News is that whenever we get something wrong, it’s likely it’ll be billed as Fake News by someone, even if just in jest. In Q and As readers asked about clickbait, spelling errors, training, mistakes and increasing cover prices. the best way to deal with such complaints is to behave as every other customer service industry does – by tackling it head on and either promising to do better or explaining why a situation is so.

Some of the highlights from the day on social media are below – hopefully plenty of food for thought for future campaigns up and down the country. There were many more great examples too.

Continue reading

Life is local: An investigation to make you stop in your tracks


If you read just one story from the regional press this weekend, please consider this one from the Islington Gazette. It’s a truly remarkable story, with an intro to make you stop in your tracks:

An ex-mayor of Islington and top councillor at the time when children were being raped in kids’ homes has sensationally admitted her links to a pro-paedophile group that supported child sex in early 1980.

Not surprisingly, it was front page news for the paper this week – and stood out at the news stand I visited at Euston Station on Thursday night too.

Continue reading

Can a mulberry tree planted by Wordsworth show us the future of local journalism in 3 steps?


Wray Castle, in the Lake District, sits atop a hill giving it commanding views of Lake Windermere. Its locations put its at the very heart of the National Trust’s history, and the man who conceived the idea of the National Trust, Hardwicke Rawnsley, was related to the one-time owners of the building.

Since 1929, the building and its grounds have been owned by the National Trust. Beneath a mulberry tree in the grounds of the castle is the above plaque, a little battered by age, which tells visitors that William Wordsworth planted the tree there. That’s quite a claim to fame for a tree, isn’t it?

On Good Friday this year, the chances of wandering lonely as a cloud around Wray Castle were slim to none. Along with hundreds of National Trust properties around the country, it was playing host to an Easter Egg hunt funded by Cadbury. The mulberry tree was one of the stops on the trail:

Continue reading

Life is local: Elections making front pages

If you read Twitter last week, you’d think the biggest contribution the local Press has made to election coverage so far has been the decision to accept ad wraps from the Tories on titles across the country.

chorley citizenAmong the titles accepting the wraps was the Chorley Citizen, the first newspaper I ever did paid work (and a heck of a lot of unpaid work) for. Back in 1996, my first ever front page was printed in spot green (remember that?) because a wrap had been sold. A wise old hand at the time advised me ‘to get use to it.’ It wasn’t a political wrap, but it was an advertiser paying to be the first thing a reader saw.

Continue reading