Brand identifiers – or what’s important about how you get your news?

On my last post a mini-debate has broken out about whether our exisiting news organisations really need journalists to investigate stories.

A debate also broke out on Twitter between myself and Bobbie “I probably have one of the coolest jobs in the world and get to live in San Fransciso” Johnson of The Guardian.

He was arguing that having investigative journalism was, in a way, a form of marketing for a news brand – a way to identify the product as being better than its competition.

An interesting point that got me thinking.

Russell Brand & Jonanathan Ross, the US elections, the Congo, Gordon Brown shaking hands with Al Qaida suspects – all of these are news stories and all of them have been covered by the UK’s media outlets in one form or another over the last week.

So, what are the things that make you choose to get your news from one organisation rather than another? I tried to make a list:

  • political stance/worldview
  • specialist subject areas (FT for info on the financial crisis, The Sun for bikini pics of the latest Bond girl, The Birmingham Post for W.Mids news)
  • platform and convenience (R4 gets my vote when cleaning the kitchen or driving to work, lots of people read The Metro on the train)
  • personalities (Charlie Brooker springs to mind)

That can’t be it, surely?

5 thoughts on “Brand identifiers – or what’s important about how you get your news?

  1. Interesting debate. From personal experience, I agree mainly with your 3rd point. At a NMK Future of Newspapers event last week the point was raised that in the digital age, people want the right content, delivered in the right way at the right time.

  2. I’d add entertainment value to the list. One reason people buy The Sun is because it’s funny.

    Going back to whether the world needs (or wants) journalists for news, the Ross/Brand story is an interesting example.

    The Mail on Sunday broke the story, but of course all the people who listened to the show already knew about it, and any of them could have blogged about it (maybe they did, I don’t know).

    But it became a story not because of any investigative journalism (unless you count getting a few quotes), but because the MoS recounted what had happened and said it was shocking. They correctly guessed that there were people out there who’d be interested in being told how shocking it was.

    There’s more to journalism than passing on information, or even digging out new information which isn’t publicly available. Journalists also put things in context and explain them, and there’s clearly a market for that, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the world will always need people who are *paid* to do that.

  3. I’d add quality of writing and clarity, plus trust.
    I buy The Week because it tells me eveything I need to know but more importantly it explains the background to stories I don’t really ‘get’ – like what leveraging is – very concisely.
    I’d buy the Sun if there’s been some sort of tragedy because I know they’ll have the people, because they have the audience.
    I buy the Guardian at weekends for the columnists (personalities).
    I listen to Radio 5 on the way to work and PM on Radio 4 on the way home.
    For ‘just enough details about the news and plenty of features to distract me on the train’ I buy the Mail, and spend the hour shaking my head at its tone.
    But I spent five years reading every national paper every morning… if I hadn’t I might have a different view! I don’t know if my friends would say the same.
    I’d guess they have a view about certain papers that means they’d never buy them and care more about convenience than anything else.

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