NORTHERN Ireland has one of the most competitive markets for the morning newspapers in these islands, if not the world, with between 15 and 20 titles daily. The Guardian takes a look at the current state of play, and how it is likely to change with the introduction of a new morning tabloid edition of the Belfast Telegraph (although you can buy the current broadsheet before noon) and Daily Ireland.The threat of Daily Ireland from the Andersonstown News Group has already resulted in the Irish News upping its Irish language content, and the row over funding for newspapers will simmer on. On the other side of the fence, it will be interesting to see if the News Letter’s new direction as an unapologetic, hardline, unionist paper with ethnic undertones will be able to fend off the threat from the tabloid Tele.
A political editorial line is important to the three regional dailies here, but the top selling newspapers in Northern Ireland are UK tabloids with a smattering of sensationalist local news. There seems to have been an understable downturn in political coverage of the talks over the past year. Do people really care much about a newspaper’s editorial stance on the political situation? Are people ‘loyal’ to particular papers? Do we want to be informed or entertained? And who reads leader columns anyway?