Sean Dodson, left, postgraduate leader in journalism at Leeds Beckett University, made the criticism in an article which claims the use of listicles and clickbait by local newspapers is contributing to their “falling credibility”.
Sean recalled an issue of the Croydon Advertiser in July which published two stories opposite each other on facing pages, headlined ’13 things you’ll know if you are a Southern rail passenger’ and ‘9 things you didn’t know about Blockbuster’ respectively.
He also cited the Gloucestershire Echo’s story about a discarded bucket of KFC which was left on the ground in Cheltenham, Gloucester daily The Citizen’s 2013 piece about the “biggest chip in Gloucestershire” and the Folkestone Herald’s story about an out-of-date pasty being sold to a young mum.
In the piece, published on The Conversation, Sean wrote: “Discarded fast food and stale pasties are simply not news as generations of reporters have understood it.
“There is widespread academic consensus – a solitary piece of litter or a big chip or a stale pasty does not conform with any of the news values…generally accepted as the gold standard for journalists.
“Can we expect more? You bet. Regionals across the land are using ever more content written by amateurs to fill newspapers left chronically understaffed by rounds of job losses.”
“Fewer journalists, fewer scoops, fewer hard questions, less topicality and weaker attribution. It all contributes to the falling credibility of Britain’s regional papers.
“The idea of a critical or rational press cannot, surely, be consistent with editorial policy that counts generating clickbait as part of its schedule. And so, we see more listicles, more user-generated content and more stories without any recognisable news value.”
“Sadly, given the state of revenues in the news industry, we can expect more lookalike listicles appearing in the regional press as the same bleak certainty that a rail passenger in the south of England awaits delays.”
Sean, who has previously worked for The Guardian and other titles, went on to claim “skilful journalism” was flourishing elsewhere, noting circulation highs for magazines such as The Spectator and Private Eye.
His piece is an edited extract from Lost for Words: Can journalism survive the slow death of print? to be published by Abramis Academic Publishing in January 2017.