The important thing is not that this was more than three times as many as the next most popular choice – BBC TV news – but that it was more than ten times as many as those who favoured a regional press website.
And the reason for this peasants’ revolt? Last week’s issue of Press Gazette, and the publication of the results of the YouGov poll commissioned by this magazine. If you missed it, I can tell you that 52 per cent of the sample said regional newspapers were the best source of news and information about the area in which they lived. The important thing is not that this was more than three times as many as the next most popular choice – BBC TV news – but that it was more than ten times as many as those who favoured a regional press website.
The front page pie chart made the point particularly well, which is why it’s since been plastered all over the building.
And glued to a few select car windscreens.
Now, surveys don’t usually inspire or interest the rank and file.We normally just sit back and wait for the latest lunatic deduction to make its way down to us. (I well remember the decision, based on research, to employ a pigeon racing correspondent. It was weeks before someone realised that the “randomly” assembled focus group session that came up with the idea had been staged in a pub where the local pigeon racing club had just met.)
But what invigorates us poor Luddites is the thought that someone in a grey suit might read the survey and realise what we’ve been arguing all along: that there is still a vast, loyal and profitable market out there for what’s described as our “print offering”. And that it makes no sense to continue to strip assets, resources and investment from that “print offering” just to spunk it away on a website mainly populated by ex-pats in New Zealand who only want to see if their old schoolfriends have died yet.
To the barricades, brothers and sisters!
I DON’T have a lot of time for PR people. I know most of you will tell me that you’re honest brokers who play an essential role in filling our pages with interesting and informative news.
Why is it, then, that I only seem to get phoned up by some clueless London bint called Fiona Double-Barrelled asking me if I’ve got the press release she emailed me 10 minutes earlier. Yes, love, I have got it. And I immediately binned it because it was badly written, lacking in information and imagination, completely irrelevant to our readers and past our deadline.
And then there are the simply shameless. Enter, stage left, someone called Kizzi Nkwocha, who emailed me last week with a breathless announcement (I’ve corrected some of the punctuation and spelling): “Hi,We’ve just had this great story come about a couple of our clients and thought that it may be of interest to you. Two UK psychic detectives have arrived in Portugal in a bid to help track down missing toddler Madeleine McCann.
“Amanda Hart from St Albans and Ben Murphy fromWatford believe their psychic powers could provide the missing key in finding the three-year-old. Amanda, who has appeared on Tricia Goddard’s Psychic Challengeâ€¦ says she has been receiving vital clues as to the child’s whereabouts. Her partner, Ben Murphy, who was involved in helping track down the murderer of teenager Sally Anne Bowman last year, has also had psychic impressions of her location.
“If you’d like any further information about Amanda and Ben, please feel free to contact Kizzi Nkwocha on the following number or emailâ€¦”
As dear old Sir John Junor would have said: “Pass the sick bag, Alice.”