Are British newspapers really less frivolous than 25 years ago?

Occasionally our media training clients complain that there’s ‘not nearly so much serious news coverage in the papers as there was’. A new survey however, refutes this. The PR agency Clarion Communications compared the contents of tabloids and broadsheets in 1986 compared to 2011, and came up with some surprises. The report suggests that the broadsheets have become more like tabloids (more coverage of celebrities, reality TV etc) but the tabloids have become more like broadsheets, with increased hard news coverage. Overall there is more hard news coverage than 25 years ago. The net result is that the news agendas of the Mail, Sun, Guardian and the rest are now remarkably similar – it’s just that different stories are given prominence according to how upmarket your newspaper is. You still won’t find The Times leading on Katie Price, but dig down into Caitlin Moran’s Friday column and you can usually find out the latest tabloid dirt (if you wish).

While it may be good news that tabloid readers have more of a chance of reading the heavyweight as well as frivolous stories, it reinforces a point I often make to clients. They often assume the more serious publications will only want to hear about serious, important stuff. They won’t be interested in frivolous gossip. My answer to them is ‘oh yes they will!’ All reporters are interested in the interesting, offbeat angles that will catch their readers’ attention. So don’t throw them a bit of juicy industry tittle-tattle and expect them not to print it. They’ll lap it up with the best of them.