2020: It’s time for newsrooms to see themselves as influencers

Posted on: January 6, 2021 by admin

As part of Behind Local News’ year in review series Nicola Adam, group editor at JPI North West, shares how 2021 is an opportunity for journalists to reassess how they see the relationship with social media.

Looking back on 2020, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt which will be useful to you in 2021 and beyond?

We can adapt and roll with the punches far quicker than we ever realised.

Thinking about your newsroom or team, what will you remember most about 2020?

The genuine dedication of the newsroom team despite working in very different circumstances and amid not just professional but personal disruption, particularly the parents juggling during lockdown. They have not missed a deadline or a target and produced some top class journalism.

Nicola Adam

What do you think needs to happen in 2021 to make local journalism stronger?

We need to decide what we are and let go of any victim mentality with regards to losing revenue to the big hitters online. Instead we need to work alongside them and re-assess our own value as high-value influencers (yes, influencers) in our local communities and re-think the way we approach gathering revenue. The world has changed whether we like it or not.

Thinking specifically about covering Coronavirus and lockdown in 2020 in your newsroom or team, what are your reflections and takeaways?

This has been one of the most challenging and fast-moving stories to cover for local newsrooms, largely due to the difficulties in gatherings facts and figures from organisations themselves struggling to cope amid rapid top-down government edicts, orders, mixed messaging and politicking. But our readers need us to translate.

As a result the most compelling elements of our reportage has been very human and or/informative, which is exactly as it should be. We have learned to listen more closely to our readers and audience and react faster to what they actually want to read and see and we have further work to do. Engagement has been astonishing but unfortunately, with that, has come a great deal of abuse from the public — something to needs re-evaluating for the future of the industry if we are to retain talent.

If you had to choose one or two of the most memorable Coronavirus/lockdown stories from your team (hard, we know!), what would they be?

  • (Blackpool) The remarkable story of the woman had had a baby while being on death’s door with Covid — but survived to tell the story and meet her little one.
  • (Preston) The man reduced to circumstances where he had to suck teabags for sustenance — bringing home to depths of despair some families have been reducing the pandemic.

If you had to choose one or two of the most memorable non-Coronavirus/lockdown stories from your team (hard again, we know!), what would they be?

  1. The death of Bobby Ball sent a wave of grief and nostalgia through Blackpool and was reported on admirable and sensitively by the team through a series of stories.
  2. The quiet retreat of Cuadrilla, the company controversially given the go-ahead to frack in Lancashire.

Has your newsroom or team run a campaign this year? If so, what was it about, and what has it achieved so far?

We have run multiple but the key and ongoing one has been #supportlocal which has been reinvented in several ways this year to help those in our communities get the attention they deserve and bolster the local economies. Our current campaign at Lancashire Post #cardsforkindness is simply asking local people to send an extra Christmas card to those in care homes in a bid to counter loneliness over the festive season.

Finally, and we know it’s cheesy, if you had one Christmas wish for local journalism, what would it be and why?

A happy trust-mas. We need to fight for our position as trusted media amid the noise.

This article first appeared on Behind Local News in its Year in Review.

Read more of the series here: