Monday, 30 November 2009

News Agenda. BBC Radio 4 and The Daily Echo.

Following the current practical journalism sessions on news agenda, I was assigned to follow The Daily Echo and BBC Radio 4 to analyse their news agenda and take a more in depth look in how they choose to present the news to the general public.
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 describes themselves on their website as: ‘’A station for anyone interested in intelligent speech. Its schedule is packed with the most insightful journalism, the wittiest comedy, the most fascinating features and the most compelling drama and readings anywhere in UK radio.’’
BBC Radio 4 replaced BBC Home Service in 1967. It is currently run by Mark Damazer. He took over from Helen Boaden, who now heads BBC News. Radio 4 has won Sony Radio Academy Awards for UK Radio Station of the year in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
Radio 4 listening accounts for 12.4 % of the radio market, with 10.22 million people listening for at least fifteen minutes each week.
The station is targeting an older audience, there is certainly nothing that would interest young children and it is unlikely it would be appealing to most teenagers. The shows broadcasted are based on the following subjects; art, comedy, discussions, documentaries, drama, history, money, news, politics, readings, religion and science. I found an article on The Telegraph’s website, titled ‘Now I know the clock’s ticking, I’ve started listening to Radio 4.’ It appears to be a common conception that Radio 4 is aimed at older listeners, as the article explores in a light-hearted fashion the indicators of getting old and listening to Radio 4 was noted as a key indicator. Another article I sourced on The Evening Standard’s website reported on Radio 4’s new tactic to draw in a younger audience, b y broadcasting their show from three major universities across the UK. Radio 4 is clearly aware of their current audience being in the age bracket of 40 years and over. The links to both articles are listed below.

Looking at demographic audience categories, Radio 4 is aimed at an ABC1 demographic. It seems to be a universal concept that Radio 4 is aimed at those of a higher social status. I found a Daily Mail article relating to this, in which Mark Damazer states that Radio 4 is not just ‘for posh people in the south of England. ‘ The Daily Mail also quoted that ‘he (Mark Damazer) added, that Radio 4 listeners were a diverse group united only in wanting intelligence, clever ideas and wit.’ Surely this statement in itself clearly shows the demographic category Radio 4 wish to reach with their programmes. The Daily Mail article can be found via the link below.

There are various news bulletins on Radio 4 throughout the day. The midnight news follows national and international affairs and follows what I would think to be a typical news format. Beginning with a brief overview of the headlines, each story is then covered in more detail. There are cuts to specific topical correspondents for further coverage and also use quotes from members of the public. There is very little, if any, focus on entertainment news, politics and world affairs are the priority. A review of the daily papers is also included, with a look at the front page stories. There is also sports coverage in brief and an overview on the currency markets. This is then followed by the weather, the bulletin lasting a total of 30 minutes.
Another daily bulletin is ‘News Briefing’ which is aired at 5.30am every morning after the shipping bulletin and is usually presented by Rory Morrison. This is possibly aimed at those commuting to work early in the morning. Again this follows a typical news format, with a brief overview of the headlines which are then covered in more detail. The weather is read halfway through the bulletin and is followed by a look at the daily papers, with headlines read from Daily Express, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Mirror, The Times, The Telegraph and some international papers. Following on from this, there is business news with Nick Cosgrove, followed by Sport. To finish the bulletin is a summary of the news to be covered more in depth throughout the day. Each story in the News Briefing is, as the title suggests, kept short and to the point and again does not focus on entertainment news but aims for a more formal angle, which is probably in keeping with the target age range who may not be interested in the current X-Factor scandals. The bulletin lasts for a total of 13 minutes and is clearly intended as a concise overview of the important headlines of the day.
Generally I feel the news prioritised on Radio 4 reflects the audience that listen to it. There is a focus on political affairs and heavy topics, with very little emphasis on entertainment or celebrity news as it is unlikely to interest the majority of listeners. Any news of a more light-hearted nature is usually read out last.

The Daily Echo
The Daily Echo was first published in August 1888. It is currently owned by Newsquest, the second largest publisher of local newspapers in the UK. The Daily Echo was named Newspaper of the Year 2009 at the EDF Energy South East and London Media Awards.
The Daily Echo has a fairly balanced ratio of male to female readers, with 51% of readers being male and 49% female. The Daily Echo is also read by a diverse age range of readers, as shown by the figures below.
15- 24 years: 16%
25-34 years: 16%
35-44 years: 18%
45-54 years: 15%
55-64 years: 16%
65 and over: 19%
These figures show that The Daily Echo is read by those of all ages. This could be attributed to the fact that it is a local paper and therefore the stories reported will feature local people, school events, latest council updates, which will of course attract a vast age group. Of course people will also be interested in seeing if anyone they know is in the paper.
The Daily Echo displays a wide range of advertisements in their paper, from travel to local shows. The costs of advertising vary depending on the day the advert is to be printed and size of advert. Thursday and Friday are peak advertisement days, so the cost will be higher. A basic one column advert starts at £6.88 on off peak days. As a regional newspaper, there are of course many local advertisements, from selling cars, dating adverts, family announcements and home services. This is certainly not something you would find in a national newspaper, as the adverts would cover a much more universal range of products. Clearly aware of their audience, The Daily Echo advertises mainly local companies.
Looking at the front cover of The Echo, there is a ‘Win Free Sex’ header below the name of the paper which is commonly associated with tabloid newspapers. However there is rarely any sexual content, there is more of a focus on competitions, perhaps to be more appealing to a family audience. The front page typically has a large bold headline relating to the latest regional news and some form of advertising along the bottom.
Some of the main news features I have identified in The Daily Echo include ‘News Round-Up,’ which is featured on a number of pages throughout and consists of short concise news stories. ‘Civic News,’ which covers news from local authorities. ‘Your Views,’ a chance for readers to write in and give their views, as the title suggests. ‘Neighbourhood News,’ again the title is self explanatory, readers send in any local news. Each day there is also a different supplement with the paper, perhaps to appeal to a broader audience.
Generally I think that the news reported in The Echo gives a sense of community, it is reporting stories directly related to those in the region in which it circulates. Its political standing appears neutral because it does not report on current political affairs, therefore it can be read by a broad audience and the figures show that it is read by a large cross section of age groups. The Daily Echo knows its audience and presents the news stories accordingly.

Daily Echo reader ages and figures provided by The Daily Echo office in Southampton
Advertising costs for Daily Echo provided by The Daily Echo’s advertising department in Southampton

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