News to look forward to in 2019
In a world where the news agenda seems entirely dominated by Brexit how do you get your story into the media?
The BBC’s business editor, Simon Jack said he felt that Brexit is too often the default lead story particularly for BBC News, resulting in audiences being bombarded with arcane details of the political process. “If you didn’t know better you might think the Dominic Grieve Amendment was the name of an obscure prog-rock band”.
But Times columnist and editor of The Reaction website, Iain Martin argued that the BBC has a duty to report Brexit prominently in its key bulletins. “For some people the BBC is their only source of news and Brexit is the pivotal story of our times,” he said.
For Daily Mirror political editor Pippa Crerar, the challenge is making Brexit relevant to people’s lives. She said Mirror readers care about the politics, but what they really want to know is how will Brexit impact their lives because of lack of medicines or threat to jobs.
Simon Jack reiterated the importance of bringing a complex story to life with memorable examples and case studies. “I wrote recently about the Brexit threat to the sandwich industry. The BLT may soon just be the B sandwich”.
We are living in fractious times and newspapers want stories which unite us rather than divide us
Brexit has squeezed out other news, a point felt clearly by lifestyle writer Tanith Carey, who writes regularly for the Daily Mail and Telegraph.
“As a freelance it’s hard to get commissions, but there is still an appetite for non-Brexit stories. We are living in fractious times and newspapers want stories which unite us rather than divide us.”
She cited the rise in interest in veganism as an example of a lifestyle zeitgeist issue which has captured attention. “Greggs vegan sausage roll was a great example of a business spotting a trend – much to the fury of angry white meat-eaters.”
Iain Martin described a fragmented media landscape where the traditional model of advertising-funded journalism is broken. This week Buzzfeed – once lauded as a great hope for new digital journalism – laid off several journalists because revenues are drying up.
It was pure Davos, global CEOs, senior politicians and the head of an African NGO, chaired by Facebook’s new comms director Nick Clegg
“You can’t build a media business based on an ad-funded model,” said Martin. “By contrast there is a good future for quality subscription-based journalism.”
Inevitably the panel highlighted the global dominance of Facebook and other social media as making a huge impact on the media industry. Simon Jack described a recent panel discussion he took part in at the World Economic Forum.
“It was pure Davos, global CEOs, senior politicians and the head of an African NGO, chaired by Facebook’s new comms director Nick Clegg”
He said Clegg’s arrival has signalled a new approach by Facebook to face up to criticisms. Jack said: “The new tactic seems to be carry on making stacks of money and then every six months say sorry.”
Asked to forecast where the news agenda may go in the next 12 months, all four panellists agreed that Brexit would continue to dominate. But despite that there would still be room for organisations who can supply great case studies, have a newsworthy opinion and tap into the public mood.
Tanith Carey said wellbeing, mental health, the environment and animal stories all play well with commissioning editors. Pippa Crerar said good scoops, exclusives and campaigns that people can unite behind remain an important part of the mix.
Simon Jack said: “At the BBC we are looking to highlight trends. That may be the death of the High Street and what that means for the future of towns and cities. The rise of the gig economy and how we work is a huge issue for our audiences and we want stories and examples that reflect those trends.”