News consumption amidst the crisis

Now that we are into week three of lockdown, analysis of our changing media habits during this crisis has started to return results. Survey researchers, Censuswide, have been polling people across the country to find out how COVID-19 is changing behaviour. There is some good news for the wider industry – it seems that Brits are relying on journalism more now than ever. Indeed, more than half (52%) of respondents over the last week said they are reading national news, up from 46% on the previous week. While 49% are reading local news and over a third (38%) are reading international news at least once a week. Almost half (45%) said they are reading publications more than they usually do.

There was a significant jump in the number of 16-24-year olds reading national news publications at least once a week, rising from 30% to 45% in the space of seven days. Manchester was singled out as the city home to the highest number of people reading local news at least once a week (56%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top reason people are reading publications more is to keep up to date with the coronavirus situation (80%) while over 43% said it’s because they have more spare time.

However, when asked what type of content they want to see in the news, 45% indicated that they wanted to see heart-warming stories about human kindness, 41% want more information about coronavirus, and over a third (36%) want stories backed up with data.

Operation Fake News

Downing Street’s anti-fake news unit is reportedly dealing with up to 10 cases of misinformation about coronavirus a day as it emerged some articles are getting more views than all of those posted by the NHS put together.

The Government has published information that specialist units are working to combat false and misleading narratives about coronavirus. The Rapid Response Unit, operating from within the Cabinet Office and No. 10, is tackling a range of harmful narratives online – from purported ‘experts’ issuing dangerous misinformation to criminal fraudsters running phishing scams. Up to 70 incidents a week of false narratives containing multiple misleading claims are being identified and resolved.

The ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign will also relaunch this week, aimed at helping people to question what they read online.

Newspapers to lose £50m in online ads

British newspapers face losing £50m in digital revenues as advertisers use “blacklist” technology to block ads from appearing next to stories that mention coronavirus.

When advertisers run digital campaigns they use keyword blacklists – stocked with trigger words such as “attack” and “death” – that automatically stop ads running alongside potentially problematic stories. Publishers say that words related to the pandemic – such as “coronavirus” and “Covid-19” – are appearing on blacklists across the industry. This has meant that while national and regional newspaper publishers are gaining record numbers of digital readers, publishers are simultaneously struggling to make ad revenue.

This comes as news that newspapers, including City AM, will furlough staff and suspend the daily edition, instead choosing to focus on online content at, in the latest measures to protect the newsbrand during the pandemic.

Big Issue coming to a shop near you

For the first time in The Big Issue’s 29-year history, you can now buy a copy with your shopping at the supermarket. Two weeks ago the publisher announced that it would be temporarily stopping vendors from selling on the streets as the coronavirus outbreak meant it was no longer safe for them to continue. But from April 2nd, Sainsbury’s was the first major supermarket to stock The Big Issue in hundreds of stores across the UK and online. Editors are adapting under lockdown to make sure they can continue supporting the vulnerable people who rely on the magazine to lift themselves out of poverty, despite a total loss of street sales.

Readers old and new can buy the magazine from stores for £3 and 50 per cent of net proceeds will go into a vendor support fund. You can also download a digital copy for £2.50 here.


Labour’s new leader – a moment of change or continuity?

Join our webinar today (Monday 6th April) at 2.30pm, which will consider how the Labour Party’s new leader will change or continue with the path set by Jeremy Corbyn.

There is an opportunity for participants to pose questions to the panel during the webinar.

Use this link to register:



Lexington’s Consultant, Rosalind KennyBirch comments:

“Local news outlets have undoubtedly been struggling as coronavirus spreads across the UK, with several newspapers ceasing print publication.

“However, the crisis also provides an opportunity for local media to assert itself as the go-to source for trusted information on the pandemic for communities, updating the public on the latest coronavirus data and quarantine efforts in their local area.

“Labour’s letter to the Chancellor is an important step to encourage the Government to consider the challenges local media is facing as a result of coronavirus. In the months ahead, we can expect to see this evolve into a wider discussion on the role of local journalism as the disease continues to spread to communities across the country.”


Louisa Compton has been appointed Head of News and Current Affairs and Sport at Channel 4.

Samuel Agini starts his new role today as Sports Business Reporter at the Financial Times.

Shoshana Goldberg has joined The Times as Contributing Editor for Times Weekend.

Rianna Croxford has now started her new role as a Community Affairs Correspondent at BBC News. Rianna will be covering the “UK’s diverse population and communities, with a focus on underserved audiences” and working across television, radio and online.

Tim Baker has joined The Sun as a News Reporter. He was previously a Reporter at the Evening Standard.

Smitha Mundasad is resuming her role as a Health Reporter at BBC News.

Peter Foster has now started his new role as Public Policy Editor at the Financial Times.


If your organisation needs communications advice, or you would like more information about how Lexington’s team of media experts can support you, please contact Patrick Foster, Head of Corporate Communications