Saturday, October 02, 2010

Write for your reader

a reader comments - Belfast Telegraph

Knowing your audience is a crucial part of pitching your argument and your content at the eyeballs and eardrums that will read, watch or listen to it. Not being a Saturday night reader of the Belfast Telegraph, the short weekly a reader comments piece in the Review section is new to me.

So the request for 150 words reviewing the week’s papers turned out not to be some kind of mystery shopping viewpoint for internal consumption but ended up on page 25 of the printed weekend paper. There’s no doubt that I could have made many of the same points in a softer, more publicly accessible style if I'd realised!

I’m not arrogant enough to know what Belfast Telegraph’s readership enjoy reading and demand from their daily local paper. However, I am opinionated enough to suggest that there’s been a definite tabloid-ification over the last ten years or so. Maybe that's something that the paper’s new Readers’ Editor Paul Connolly (also the Managing Editor) will pick up in his weekly column?

The original submission is reproduced in full below. I’m guessing it may provoke some comments. I used a few more than 150 words, so the version that appeared in tonight's paper omitted sections - including the one mention of Lisburn!

Cleavage on Belfast Telegraph front page

Reading four consecutive days of Belfast Telegraph papers I can conclude that page 3 is lightweight, and the print version is as obsessed with cleavage as BT’s non-work-safe website. Good coverage of NI political items – unionist heavy but that accurately reflects this week’s political news. Belfast heavy, Derry mentioned a couple of days, but relatively little west of the Bann. Generally very little RoI news or comment – a little bit more on Thursday around bank bailouts and relating NAMA to NI properties.

Monday 27 Telegraph:am

Tom Elliott article in Belfast Telegraph

Lots of news and reflection about Tom Elliott. Page 2 story uses phrase “Speaking yesterday, Tom Elliott said …” and “During the interview yesterday …” but is never explicit about which other media outlet (probable BBCNI Politics Show) did the original interview. Why not quote your sources?

education article in Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 28 Final Edition

Strong coverage of NICCY’s consultation on “transfer shambles” but no voices on p4/5 criticising or challenging the report.

Article about Corus Steel becoming Tata Steel in Belfast Telegraph

Good breadth of stories and analysis in Business Telegraph. But should the story on Corus adopting new Tata Steel identify (Business p2) not have used the new logo rather than the old one to illustrate the article?

Wednesday 29 Final Edition

PSNI teen photo article in Belfast Telegraph

Good in-depth and balanced two page spreads on PSNI’s publication of 14 year old’s photo (p4/5) and empty school places (p12/13).

Thursday 30 City Edition

20 facts about skating - Belfast Telegraph

Page 3 – 20 things I still don’t need to know about ice-skating. Looking across the week, it’s obvious that page is meant to be cheery and flimsy, but it is quite a contrast to the serious news on p2.

Page 6’s story about a Lisburn garden centre that opened last weekend (old news - 5 or 6 days ago) talks about traffic disruption – would have been helpful to mention where in Lisburn the store is located. Lisburn garden centre traffic chaos - Belfast TelegraphI live there and I (still) don’t know.

Irony alert as Robert McNeil’s column (p33) suggests covering up cleavage, boobs, hooters and “dubious [male] cyclists in Lycra” (whatever is he cheaply insinuating by “dubious”?) provides the excuse to print the accompanying photo. Maybe after the BT sorts out the local education system it'll start campaigning about body image.

nicarfinder masthead

The “ni” in the cover of Thursday’s nicarfinder supplement has completely dissolved into the grey background of the front cover image!

Page from Thursday night's Belfast Telegraph

Since it was over the 150 word limit – now the limit makes sense as it’s half a column as opposed to a strange limit for an internal report – the “irony” was somewhat lost when that second last paragraph was truncated down to ...

Irony alert as Robert McNeil’s column (p33) suggests covering up cleavage, boobs, hooters and “dubious [male] cyclists in Lycra” .

... losing the reference to the photo. [There really was a space between the double quotes and the full stop in the piece.]

Moral of story: check and double check who’s going to read what you’re writing!

Question to end the post: how satisfied are you with the Belfast Telegraph? or the Irish News? or the Newsletter?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Page 6’s story about a Lisburn garden centre that opened last weekend (old news - 5 or 6 days ago) talks about traffic disruption – would have been helpful to mention where in Lisburn the store is located. I live there and I (still) don’t know."

The story on the BT website from September 23 gives the full address in Lisburn.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/business-news/dobbies-86m-garden-centre-opens-in-lisburn-14957030.html

Or you could visit the Dobbies website and use their store locator
http://www.dobbies.com/storelocator

Alan in Belfast said...

True - but the point was that in an article explaining that there was traffic chaos and backlogs around an M1 junction, it didn't make the location clear to a *reader of the paper* not already knowing where the garden centre was and how to access it.

Once you know that its entrance is off the Saintfield Road roundabout, it makes perfect sense. But they needed to add that fact in, otherwise it could have been built halfway to Saintfield or Ballynahinch - or on the other side of town and just massively popular with motorway travellers! - and the reader would be none the wiser.