James Spellins, our new insight manager, on how his newsbrand reading habits have evolved.
The order in which I read a newsbrand has hardly changed since I was young. I would pick up the paper left on the table and I’d immediately flip it over to the back page. Sport came, and still comes, first.
Whether it was an ode to Roger Federer’s ethereal backhand or a seemingly ever-present critique of the England football team, consuming thoughts from journalists who were constantly immersed in sport was something that almost felt like a necessity every day. The culture section came next – generally film reviews, most of which I ignored anyway – then the front two or three pages.
What has changed is how much time I now spend on the front pages consuming domestic and world affairs. My interest in this content has increased exponentially as I’ve got older. I must confess though, until last year, I did think newspapers were less relevant than they used to be; that the rise of social media and apps had made traditional newsbrands less crucial to us as a society. That the worldwide rise of ‘fake news’ and perceived apocryphal stories had led to a distrust of newsbrands.
Turns out that, on reflection, I was wildly incorrect. Newsbrands in this country have never been more relevant or consumed to the level they are now. Even if one just looks at how many people newsbrands reach on a monthly basis – 47 million Brits every month, an extraordinary figure – one cannot help but see that newsbrands are still a big part of society.
Aside from this stat, nothing reaffirms the importance of newsbrands more to me than the success of investigative journalism. The three stories that come to mind are the MPs expenses scandal, David Walsh’s arduous uncovering of Lance Armstrong and the doping epidemic in cycling and the investigation into Sam Allardyce during his short tenure as England manager.
None of these stories nor their counterparts would have been made possible without newsbrands. Journalism remains a very effective investigatory tool into wrongdoing and malpractice.
Newsbrands have a duty to inform. The fact that we have such a diverse breadth of newsbrands in Britain is something to be celebrated. Long may it continue.