Monday, 5 November 2007

Could NI sustain a quality newspaper?

The standard of local newspapers in Northern Ireland is fairly poor. I don't mean the frequently hilarious “man urinates in main street” 'local-local' newspapers from the various regions of the province, but rather what passes for our “national” journalism.

In Scotland an admittedly much larger population enjoys two quality dailies, Glasgow’s Herald and the Edinburgh based Scotsman, both of which have Sunday sister titles.

In Belfast none of the daily newspapers have seriously aspired to the quality end of the market and whilst Belfast editions of the tabloid newspapers provide substantial local content, only the Sunday Times has followed this lead in the supposed quality market (with fitful results).

Of course editorially the politics of newspapers here are dictated by the community divide to a greater extent than socio-economic or educational factors. It has presumably been assumed that catering for sub-groups within these community divisions would divide readership in such a way as to be commercially unsustainable. That is before we take the limited pool of local journalists (and I use word limited advisedly) into consideration.

Currently then, those who wish to read quality newspapers have two options. They can read the Southern quality press and receive some derisory commentary of events in Northern Ireland, or they can read the UK quality press and receive similar, but with good coverage of national issues.

To take an optimistic view, if politics do normalise and cross-community realignments do take place in Northern Irish political life, the improved political discourse and cross-community affiliations may theoretically create a space (and perhaps a requirement) for a quality local newspaper.


beano said...

I've heard a few posters on Our Wee Country say that the Irish News is the closest thing Northern Ireland has to a quality news paper. I've only ever read it once or twice but I've given up on the Belfast Telegraph altogether; it's been sliding further and further into tabloidness for far too long now, it's not worth buying. In fact it's barely worth reading online - maybe one article a week gets linked from a blog that will get my attention.

Chekov said...

Beano - apart from the quality of the news articles, the website is ridiculously slow, even with a decent broadband connection. I shudder to think what it must be like on broadband.

Chekov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soothsayer said...

Jeez, someone told me to visit this site for a laugh. Says it is for the permanently angry. He was right. One Foot In The Grave wouldn't be in it. Someone should get a psychiatrist to analyse use of language here.

Anonymous said...

lol waldie is always an angry chap!!

PS the News Letter is a decent newspaper