Thre are a couple of interesting articles on the internet where people have gathered together a whole year’s headlines from a couple of newspapers. Bibliophylax did 2011 as the Express saw it and Scott Bryan did the same for the Daily Star. Very depressing it is too.
I thought I might do a little analysis, just to pass the time. It isn’t easy to slot some of the headlines into simple categories because some fit into more than one – is a headline about Cheryly and Ashley Cole an X Factor story or a randy footballer story for example? Anyway, this is what they looked like in pie chart form:
The Star’s priorities are clear to see: TV and celebrities, especially Jordan and Peter Andre or Premiership footballers. Three-quarters of their headlines were about celebrities one way or another, assuming Kate & Wills to fall into that category. Only 42 headlines were not concerned with celebrities or with high-profile murders and deaths.
There were a few stories about muslims, scroungers, phone hacking (but only where it involved celebrities or murder victims naturally), and Lottery winners. The nearest it got to news was a handful of stories about the riots, Gaddafi and Bin Laden.
The Express is a bit better inasmuch as it doesn’t obssess about TV shows. Instead it obssesses about health scares and miracle cures, house prices and other personal finance matters, and foreigners. Two-thirds of the headlines fit into those broad categories, with weather, royalty and high-profile murders taking up most of the rest.
Things that may have made the headlines of other papers but did not appear in the Express or Star include:
- Tunisia, Syria or Egypt
- Libya (except about Gaddafi personally)
- Anything else abroad (except for a couple of mentions of the tsunami or how something might affect Brit holidays)
- Kim Jong-Il
- Utoya massacre
- Results of local elections, by-elections or Scottish, Welsh and NI elections
- Opinion polls
- PMQs or any other parliamentary proceedings
- VAT increase
- National strikes
- Liam Fox
- Phone hacking (except where it impacted celebrities)
- The occupy movement
- Dale Farm (surprisingly)
- Company failures
Those who read ‘proper’ papers, dutifully devouring several of the Sunday editions, and watch QT, Newsnight and all the weekly politics shows would do well to remember that for large chunks of the population this is what counts. Many only skim over the headlines of news anyway, having bought the paper for the sport and human interest stuff.
A bit sobering to consider that all the strategists in all parties and others trapped in the Westminster bubble base their ideas on stuff that a lot of us won’t even know and base their criteria for success on things a lot of us won’t see like PMQ performances, opinion polls and so on.
What was quite shocking really was the almost total absence of anything the slightest bit international. The Express is only really worried about abroad if it gives them a chance to bash the EU or if it will affect holiday destinations or prices.
The question is, does the Express only appeal to people who don’t give a shit about anything unless it might affect their personal pension, house value, health, or monthly budget or does it train its readers to only worry about those things? It has more stories about lighbulbs than parliament during the year.
As for the Star – can a paper that can run 58 X Factor-related headlines in a year and not even mention the PM, Chancellor or any other member of government (or opposition) really call itself a newspaper? Even Harry Potter gets one headline!
And here is the dilemma for political parties which is very topical – how do you write election leaflets that the readership of these papers is going to even look at, let alone pay attention to?