It was the moment which captured the nation’s imagination during the London Marathon – when one man gave up a potential personal best to help another runner over the line. It turned out to be the most talked-about story of the week on social media from the regional Press too – with WalesOnline the title which had the strongest local line to follow. They captured the mood brilliantly:
If the news agenda is to be believed this week, we’ve been talking about nothing but the general election in our day to day lives. Not for the first time, the stories getting reaction on social media from the local press perhaps challenge our sense of what readers want and expect.
But some good news (Holdthefrontpage commenters look away now!) One of the best-performing regional Press posts of the week was this one from The National – the pro-independence title based in Glasgow:
In Hartlepool, a new weekly newspaper has launched, Prolific North reported this week. Hartlepool Life, with a run of 25,000 a week, is focused on the positive things in life.
The anti-digital message from the journalists behind it is nothing new when reading about start-up news organisations, with former Hartlepool Mail picture editor Dirk Van Der Werff stating:
“Our newspaper is only posted online the day before the next issue so we can refer people to it. Putting news online has killed so many newspapers, including the one we all loved so dearly, so we’re not making the same mistake.”
That simply isn’t true – as anyone who explores the question of “What would have happened if newspapers hadn’t put news online?” knows. The challenge for local journalism is much more profound, as illustrated by the fact Hartlepool Life is a free publication. But of Hartlepool Life’s ‘unique selling point’ Dirk, I think, is on to something:
“Facebook and online forums do anger and darkness and negativity so much better nowadays, so we’re a newspaper without any of those things – and our readers love it.”
While it would be wrong to suggest that ‘bad’ news stories aren’t working online for local journalists – indeed, a look through the most-read articles across the network of websites I work with shows they are generally the most popular with casual and loyal readers alike, and tend to be posted as reference points to the forums and social networks being mentioned above – there’s no doubt the digital age has brought about a change in thinking about positive news.
What do we learn about regional journalism and its readers when we look at the stories most-shared on social media this week?
Journalists are often taught to avoid cliches at all costs, but every now and again, a cliche just happens to be the best form of words to describe what’s happening.
Take the story of Bradley Lowery, the brave little boy whose fight against neuroblastoma really has ‘touched the hearts of a nation.’ Rarely a week goes by when an update about the five-year-old, who has been taken to the heart of his local football club Sunderland in recent months, isn’t widely shared on social media.
In one sense, it’s a reminder of the ‘social’ side of social media. It can be a place of hateful trolls, of bullying and abuse, but it can also be a place where people come together to support others.
This week, the most popular regional press story was of Bradley running out as one of the England mascots in when England played Lithuania at Wembley on Sunday:
It’s been one of those weeks when it’s hard to remember what was making the news prior to the one big thing which made every stop, stare and wonder ‘why’. This feature on the blog was set up with the intention of digging around into what people share and engage with from local media.
The theory – I guess a bit like The Guardian’s Northerner newsletter in its heyday – was that the best reflection of real-life UK comes from the regional press, and by looking at what was most likely to be engaged with on social media from the regional press, you can get a sense of what local people are most likely thinking about.
And, as I blogged on Thursday (I think), if looking at engagement with social media posts this week teaches us anything about local journalism, it’s that when a ‘national’ news story breaks, local journalists are relied upon by many to share reliable information.
Take, for example this post from the Scotsman on Wednesday afternoon, which was one of the regional Press Facebook posts to achieve the most interactions with readers:
For two newsrooms at least, the actions of MP Tobias Ellwood were particularly local:
Every week, millions – yes, millions – of people get news and information from the local Press via social media. And that makes the local Press every bit as important to local life as it ever was. But social media also puts the reader in charge, with their reactions determining the popularity and relevance of what we do. Using various data tools, he’s a round-up of some of the stories which made an impact this week:
Nostalgia, the joke in some newsrooms goes, isn’t as good as it used to be. Ho ho ho. On social media, however, it’s often the sort of content which generates the most traction amongst readers.
Looking through the most engaging posts on social media last week from the regional press, this footage from yesteryear proved a hit for the Yorkshire Post:
Online, nostalgia doesn’t have to be that, well, old. And I’m determined for personal reasons not to consider anything from the 1990s as old. The Yorkshire Evening Post’s video of a nightclub in Leeds from the 1990s to probably the nostalgic Ying to the YP’s nostalgic Yang above, but it was very popular all the same:
Every week, millions – yes, millions – of people get news and information from the local Press via social media. And that makes the local Press every bit as important to local life as it ever was. But what were the stories that really got people talking? Using various data tools, this list looks at the stories which really captured people’s attention over the past seven days, thanks to the hard work of those working in the regional press
Sometimes, stories stun newsrooms. Sometimes, the bravery of readers leaves journalists silent. This week, the Birmingham Mail reported on a woman whose actions can only be described as incredibly brave.
The Mail reported:
Every week, millions – yes, millions – of people get news and information from the local Press via social media. And that makes the local Press every bit as important to local life as it ever was. But what were the stories that really got people talking? Using various data tools, this list looks at the stories which really captured people’s attention over the past seven days, thanks to the hard work of those working in the regional press:
Like the regional press, cinemas and the film industry regularly get written off. But, if the popularity of this post from the Sheffield Star is anything to go by, neither have too much to worry about: