Jumping for joy: And why there’s more to A Level coverage than airborne teenagers

A Level results day brings back various memories for many reporters. Late-night inputting of every result in East Lancashire with fellow reporters at the Lancashire Evening Telegraph after someone had deemed we didn’t need extra copytakers to get them into the system is the first one which springs to mind.

But in the mind of many – particularly those who enjoy to parody the regional Press – it’s little more than lots of pictures of teenagers jumping in the air. Are they right? Well, sort of (and we’ll come to those picture in a bit).

A quick scan through today’s newspapers – most newsrooms were covering results day live via websites, m-sites and apps yesterday – shows a wide variety of takes on A Level results.

Triumph after tragedy – the relative of a Tunisia massacre victim celebrates his grades (Derby Telegraph)


Perhaps the most startling UGC photos to ever be submitted to a newspaper?

Stories involving people complaining about the state of public toilets have long been bread-and-butter content for newsrooms up and down the country.

But here’s a case of the cleaners striking back.

Faced with moans about the state of toilets in Alnwick, the cleaners responsible for keeping the loos spick and span decided to respond to the local newspaper, the Northumberland Gazette, with evidence of their own.

Evidence, they said, which showed the state some people were leaving the ladies’ loos in, in the first place:


How to handle a mistake after it has gone viral

Few journalists like it when they see they’ve made a mistake in public. Mistakes, obviously, vary in significance – from a typo which might get people grumbling in the pub through to the sort of errors which land the editor-in-chief in court.

Focusing on the lower end of the spectrum, digital publishing has made the squirm-for-a-bit-and-take-a-ribbing-from-your-rivals-and-colleagues type mistakes a lot more public. It takes just one photo to be uploaded to Twitter and before you know it, it’s everywhere.

As the East Oregonian newspaper found this week with this, well, howler:


Further proof that a long memory is an essential asset for any successful newsroom


Last summer, while most football fans could enjoy a brief period of hope that this season might be the season their team does something special, Blackpool FC supporters weren’t even allowed that.

With barely enough players to form a first XI at the start of pre-season, the giddy heights of the Premier League just a couple of years previously seemed light years away. It’s worth remembering that during their stint in the top-flight, they found themselves right at the heart of the January transfer window as clubs battled to sign star player Charlie Adam (not Austin, as I wrote earlier). And they so nearly stayed up, too.


Local media election diary: Side profiles, scary cartoons, genteel insults and playing with Periscope

Spin doctors spend a lot of money, and political parties waste a lot of money, trying to perfect an image for their leaders which doesn’t make people recoil in horror.

So I imagine this front page of the Oxford Mail went down really well with the news fixers of Westminster:

oxford mail scary

According to the Mail:


The power of digital journalism: The appeal for information solved in just 30 minutes

Here’s a story to warm the cockles of any journalist worried that digital journalism means losing many of the things we hold dear as regional journalists.

Shortly after lunchtime on Thursday, the Birmingham Mail published an appeal from National Express, which runs the buses across Birmingham, for information about a man wanted in connection with an assault which left a ticket inspector unconscious.

Using a variety of tools available to the newsroom, not least Facebook and Twitter, the Birmingham Mail got the appeal out to a wide audience very quickly:

What happened next was quite remarkable – and shows the strength of reaction regional news brands can enjoy in a digital world.

Within 30 minutes, according to the Mail, National Express knew the name of the man they wanted to speak to – and hundreds of people rang in with information.

Of course, the Mail won’t have been the only outlet publishing the appeal, and the fact the CCTV quality is so sharp will have helped massively.

National Express were quick to follow up with the Mail and others, thanking the public for their quick response.


And it’s the speed of the response which journalists worried about what digital journalism means for local journalism should take heart from.

Done well, with the right focus on building an audience and understanding what that audience wants – including the audience’s desire to make a difference – the tools which comes with digital platforms have the power to make our local journalism a more potent force than ever before.

As I discussed in my blog post on Friday, building a loyal digital audience make newsrooms more powerful than they’ve been in a long time – able to start and win campaigns at a stroke, hold those in power to account more effectively than ever and make a difference when it really matters within minutes.

For those who fear digital journalism is underpinned by clickbait articles ‘which aren’t real journalism,’ here’s the proof that nothing could be further from the truth.

The day a newsroom showed a strong opinion and an understanding of social media can carry just as much weight as a campaigning front page

Until today, it could have been argued that a newspaper’s most powerful tool when seeking to make a point which grabbed attention was the the printed front page. Indeed, I suggested as much last October.

And while it will remain a powerful weapon for newsrooms to deploy when they stand up and fight for their readers, the Birmingham Mail did something rather remarkable today.

It’s best summed up in this tweet from the Press Association:


A front page which combines Christmas with a drugs bust to create something rather special…


When I was putting together the gallery of front pages celebrating the art of the Christmas special, I focused on the positive.

But the front page above, from the Greenwich News Shopper, is perhaps of my favourites. First off, it makes great use of a pun based on Jingle Bells which actually rhymes, as opposed to the used-far-too-often Jingle Tills, which doesn’t, and which also doesn’t make sense.

The Christmas hats on the crooks are a treat as well, but it’s the substance of the story which makes it a winner for me.


A plucking good Christmas story


You don’t get many chances in journalism to have a front page which includes the sentence: “Don’t let them gobble our George” so well done to the Tivy-Side Advertiser in Wales for making the most of the sort of story which will always flap its way on to the front page at Christmas…the perfect christmas story