For the first time, Reach pulls together three of its national newspapers, as well as many of its regional news sites, to launch its ‘Britain Talks’ initiative.
The new initiative is supported by a custom widget that appears on articles covering hot topics – such as Brexit, benefits and sexism – readers of all papers will be prompted to fill in questionnaires and agree to be matched up with someone who lives in their area but has different views. They’ll then be asked to sit down with their match on 23 June – the third anniversary of Brexit.
Reach conducted new research to support the initiative, finding that 76% of respondents believe the country is “more divided than ever before” and 60% of people wished they could “chat to someone with an opposing view without anyone shouting.”
Award-winning Daily Mirror columnist Ros Wynne-Jones, who spearheads the project said the initiative is “an antidote to today’s polarised society and a call for polite political debate. We hope it encourages all of our readers to listen more thoughtfully and compassionately to those with different views”.
Reach editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley called the platform “a cure for divided Britain” and added: “It’s no secret that our readers don’t all agree with each other (never mind some of our very opinionated journalists). But encouraging everyone to listen more – to push past that instinct to dismiss someone you disagree with – can only be a good thing. If any of our readers learn something new about the other 52% (or 48%) – even if it’s just how to have a civil disagreement – we’ll take that as a huge achievement.”
To launch the campaign, Reach filmed a number of test pairings, including retired nurse and Leave voter Ada Pratt, 72 and Remain voter and Corbyn-supporting student Jon Lyons Connor, 22 (pictured).