I love newspapers. I’ve been an avid reader for years and not only because media coverage has always been such a major part of what I do for my clients. In the UK we are so lucky to have so many published national titles (12). With these come a wide range of excellent journalists and columnists, some of whom you agree with and others who are controversial or intentionally provocative. Whatever it is, newspapers can really make you think.
And so it was this morning when I sat round the breakfast table with our house guests, my other half’s sister, her partner and his best friend, over from Australia for their annual seven week European holiday. Between five of us we were reading The Guardian, The Times and the Daily Mail, with different Saturday supplements from each.
There was none of the usual amenable chit chat or discussion of what we would be doing today, we were all engrossed in what we were reading and nibbling at our breakfasts while drinking cups of tea and coffee. I registered with a smile The Silence of the Newspapers.
I am a two home person, during the week I live 30 miles outside of London from where I run my PR company and at weekends I am in West London. I get my papers delivered every day where my office is based but even though I’m now in situ in London on a Saturday or Sunday and most often a Monday I don’t cancel my usual papers and buy more copies locally instead.
It’s a very small gesture but newspapers have been in decline for years, suffering from lack of advertising income, trying to keep up in the digital world and overall lack of investment since they are no longer the cash cows they once were.
Yet still, every day on morning television programmes such as the BBC’s BBC Breakfast and ITV’s Good Morning Britain or BBC Radio 4’s Today radio programme they always do a review of the papers (the BBC’s current affairs programme Newsnight looks at newspaper headlines the night before). Newspapers still have great power to influence the news agenda, to uncover stories that people in power- and not just politicians – want to keep hidden, to make people famous, to tear them down, to do great investigative work or just make you smile.
I don’t want newspapers to disappear. I know you can already read them online, but in the same way that I refuse to buy a Kindle (other brands are available!) and preferring books, I like the visceral feel of page turning, of sitting at breakfast with pages wide open in front of me instead of scrolling down an iPad. I learn a lot about the world from what I read and believe I form my own opinions whatever the agenda might be from one newspaper to another.
I’m currently totally engrossed in a book, Damaged Goods, by a Sunday Times investigative journalist, Oliver Shah, a must-read horror story that is about (still Sir) Philip Green and the collapsed store chain BHS, which he offloaded with half a billion pounds of pension debt for £1 to a former multi bankrupt Dominic Chappell. Only a newspaper journalist would have the backing and support of a national newspaper to delve so deeply into the dark and dirty world of what went on behind the scenes over the years in the corporate life of the former so called king of the High Street.
So I wish that our national newspapers were doing more to promote themselves, more to get young people reading them. They need to do this before it’s too late. Predictions are that the decline and eventual death of newspaper is inevitable but I completely disagree. Get people engaged (The Times and the Daily Mail have done this online) and invest in the future. Sign up articulate thoughtful young people, whether successful bloggers, vloggers or aspiring young journalists.
Learn how to talk to young people and become a voice for them as well as keeping your core readers, such as me, happy.