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Welcome to Lexington’s weekly round-up of media news and the latest moves in journalism.

 

MEDIA NEWS

Top of the Twits

Following the election, Politico has assessed the Westminster Twitter echo chamber to reveal who now wields the most social media influence. The journos have examined which politicians, journalists and celebrities the current cohort of MPs are most likely to be following.

BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg retains her crown as the most followed, with an impressive 459 of the 561 MPs who have Twitter accounts following her updates. The biggest upward mover is new Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland, Dehenna Davison, who increased her MP following by 108. Newsnight Policy Editor Lewis Goodall has also added 100 more MPs since last year. The wooden spoon for the biggest fall in MP following goes to erstwhile Labour, Change and Liberal Democrat MP Chuka Umunna, who is today followed by 71 fewer MPs than he was last year.

How Brexiteers and Remoaners read the news

As Britain leaves the EU we take a look back at the media habits of people who voted for leave and remain in the EU referendum. Research first published by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute showed that those who voted remain are more likely to say that their main source of news is online (including social media) (45%). Leave voters have a particularly strong preference for television, with over half (51%) saying in 2019 that TV is their main source of news.

Leave voters are more likely to use commercial broadcasters like Sky News and ITV, as well as right-leaning tabloid/mid-market publications like The Sun, Daily Mail, and Daily Express. Remainers, on the other hand are more likely to turn to left-leaning newspapers like the Mirror and The Guardian, as well as digital-born outlets like HuffPost and BuzzFeed.

The report, which is based on a YouGov survey of news users, carried out in February 2019, showed there is little difference in social media news use between leavers and remainers, with the exception that those who voted remain are more likely to use Twitter.

Radio 4 to meet its match?

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is set to launch Times Radio, a rival to BBC Radio 4, as part of his news empire News UK. The channel will host “opinion-led” programming, rumoured to be funded from the marketing budget of The Times titles.

Times Radio does not intend to interrupt programmes with advertising, and the main purpose of the station will be to attract a young, wealthy metropolitan audience to grow subscriptions to the Times. The radio channel is due to launch in the spring and is the most direct competitor the BBC has ever faced, at a time when the corporation is having to slash budgets to fund licence fees for over-75s.

BBC Blood Bath

BBC News announced 450 news jobs cuts and that fewer stories will be covered as part of an effort to reach its target of saving £80m by 2022. The BBC, which currently employs around 6,000 people including 1,700 outside the UK, plans to plough more money into its online output. This is to justify charging the £154.50 licence fee to under-35s who have largely abandoned traditional television news bulletins. The broadcaster is only halfway to its cost cutting target, with more cuts expected if decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee goes ahead under Boris’ government. The BBC News budget after the changes will be around £480m per year.

Director of News Fran Unsworth, revealed on Wednesday that journalists would increasingly be pooled in centralised teams rather than working for specific programmes, with an increased emphasis on online output rather than television and radio stations. In practice, the shake-up will mean one reporter could produce a report on the same story for radio, television and online rather than being sent by an individual show.

Alongside the redundancies, which will see around one in 13 roles be culled, Newsnight, Radio 5 Live, part of the World Service and the Victoria Derbyshire programme will bear the brunt of the cuts. Newsnight, BBC 2‘s flagship current affairs show, will lose a dozen posts, production of its in-depth films will be halved and its spending on investigative journalism will be reduced. Newsnight staff revealed fears this will increasingly leave it reliant on studio-based discussions.

During the same week, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme editor Sarah Sands announced that she is standing down as editor after three years in the job. Sands became the first woman to edit the programme in 2017, when she joined from the Evening Standard. Her decision comes in the wake of a ministerial boycott orchestrated by Dominic Cummings. In October, Today recorded its lowest number of listeners in a decade, drawing an average weekly listenership of 6.60 million in the third quarter of 2019.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Jess Brammer, HuffPost Editor, tweeted that @birmingham_live have inserted a box in their “trending stories” explaining why they do them, and to rebuke the all pervasive “it’s not news” criticism…

MEDIA MOVES

Manveen Rana will be joining The Times and Sunday Times in March, as a presenter for its new Stories of Our Times podcast. The new podcast will broadcast from 6am each week day, and run for twenty-five minutes.

Nicola Slawson will be covering air pollution for the Evening Standard this year. The move suggests the paper is going to take more of a campaigning stance on air pollution in the coming months, along with The Times.

Tom Wainwright has stepped down from his role as Britain Editor at The Economist. He is now on paternity leave until March, when he will return to the title as Media Editor covering TV, film, social, publishing, advertising, and all other media-related stories.

Alex Daniel is now a Feature Writer at City AM, covering a range of topics with a focus on personal finance and marketing.

Patrick Russell is now a News Editor at ITV News. He was previously a Health and Science Producer at the outlet.

Les Steed has joined The Sun as an Online News Reporter. He was previously a Freelance Journalist.

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 
Lydia.Willgress@lexcomm.co.uk .

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