Plurality of the press

How much coverage should local newspapers have given the comprehensive spending review announcements? I was fascinated to see the wildly different approaches in today’s editions for cuts that, broadly speaking, will fundamentally affect all readers’ lives in some way.

On the one hand, this was an historic day which will mean we’ ll be working until 66 and there will be thousands of readers losing their jobs or having their benefits cut, their train fares increase or social housing rents rocket. But then, the cuts had been trailled for months, and had been endlessly chewed over the day before online, on the radio phone-ins and rolling TV news as well as the following day’s national papers.

I asked colleagues in newsrooms across the country and found a huge disparity in the pagination their papers devoted to the cuts, from 8 pages in the Newcastle Journal and 5 in the Bolton News and Northern Echo, down to 1 in the Lancashire Telegraph and Worcester News. Of course, this does not take into account the quality of the journalism or the story count on those pages, but it is an interesting indicator that even newspapers with the same owners, covering neighbouring areas, perhaps even subbed in the same production hub, can look and act toally differently.

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