NS research says regional press communities defy McSupermarket culture

New research from The Newspaper Society, which lobbies on behalf of the regional press, argues that the provinces are as richly diverse as ever and metropolitan perceptions of a one-size fits all McSupermarket culture is misplaced.

The survey by Millward Brown of more than 5,000 people across the country aims to persuade advertisers that they are missing a trick by concentrating on national and international campaign and ignoring hard-hit regional newspapers.

The new website that has sprung from the research may also help dispel or reinforce the cultural myths that journalists new to a region often fall into.

For example the survey found that the tight-knit cummunities of the Welsh valleys is still there even though most of the coal mines closed years ago.

And in the north-east, sport is still king but as many people take their cue from the snooker halls as well as the soccer pitch. That may explain why football fans in the region are the least likely to care about England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

‘Britain isn’t homogenous and people identify far more with local areas than national areas,’said Robert Ray of the Newspaper Society, who announced the survey to a group of national advertising agencies in London on Friday.

The study has split the UK into 12 regions and in classic marketing symbolese identified different ‘types’such as the Plymouth Procreator – on the basis that people in the West Country are 35 percent more likely than the UK average to think their area is a good place to bring up children.

Meanwhile, the Cardiff Impregnable reflects the finding that the percentage of Welsh believing it safe to go out is 23 percent higher than the UK average.

Some findings are less surprising. After 30 years of strife one might expect the Belfast Optimist to be 180 percent more likely to say the country is improving. And with more theatres and cinemas on their doorstep than anywhere else, Londoners probably would be 38 percent more likely to ‘take part in cultural activities regularly”.

And some of the conclusions are stretched. Evidence that 5 per cent more Scots are likely to ‘try out new things or have new experiences’doesn’t necessarily warrant the characteristic of Glasgow Daredevil.

However, the theme that emerges is a commitment to the local rather than the national at every level.

‘The research turns a London centric view of Britain on its head,’said Denise Turner of Media Planning Group. Community means different things to different people and the findings bring to life how people are living their lives on a region by region basis.”

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