A regional daily editor has revealed that his paper’s sales plummeted by thousands last Monday – after it featured a gay kiss on the front page.
The Bristol Post splashed on the wedding of Mike McBeth and Matthew Symonds, who tied the knot last weekend after the legalisation of gay marriage came into effect.
But editor Mike Norton has revealed that that despite receiving only nine phonecalls of complaint, sales of the paper dropped by thousands.
Mike has now asked readers whether he went “too far” by illustrating the story with a picture of the happy couple’s first kiss.
In a blog post, Mike wrote: “I’m a Bristolian, brought up in South Bristol. Real Bristol. One of the things I love about my home town is how characterful, tolerant and non-conformist its people are. So I thought Bristol was ready for that picture.
“But, boy, was I wrong. We lost thousands of sales of the paper. Which surprised me. Because, on the day, we received just nine phone calls of complaint.
“I’ve asked a lot of people about that picture, friends and relatives from all walks of life and all parts of the city. Absolutely no one I’ve spoken to admits to finding it offensive.
“But, clearly, what people say and what people do are different. Of course, I knew that. But I didn’t think it would apply in this case.
“So – at the risk of attracting every troll in the vicinity – I’ve decided to ask the internet. I want to hear from the people who didn’t buy the paper because of that picture.
“Tell me why. I ask only that you are reasoned and honest. But I want to start a dialogue and genuinely understand why the picture put you off.”
Mike’s post sparked a range of reactions in the comments, with one reader accusing him of having run the picture to get a reaction.
Posting under the name A_Mushroom, he wrote: “I think you knew exactly what you were doing when you published that photograph. You do it because you know it stirs up a reaction amongst your readers. Only this time you misjudged the reaction.
“You’ve been in this game long enough to understand your readers and there is a fair proportion in the ‘Daily Mail’ reader demographic. You knew they would be outraged but what you weren’t prepared for was them stopping buying the paper. Live and learn.”
However another commenter, studog, wrote: “Hopefully someday, articles like this won’t even need to exist. People who are still offended by a gay kiss are a dying breed.”