Twitterati sneers as Worcester News live-blogs opening of new Aldi supermarket

Worcester News front page

Flying off the shelves: the Worcester News front page splashing on the opening of a new Aldi supermarket in Worcester

THE twitterati were aflutter yesterday at a decision by the Worcester News to live-blog the opening of a new Aldi supermarket in the city.

One shopper queued for several hours to be the supermarket’s first customer and win a wide-screen television. About 150 others waited in line outside the store in the hope of securing other prizes.

But ‘recovering Phd researcher’ Ian Kelly (@ian_kelly3) suggested our reporting “put @guardian politics live to shame”.

While The Green Hour (@TheGreenHour) said: “What a time to be alive…”

The vein of what appeared to be sarcasm continued with pop blogger Mark Savage (@mrdiscopop) tweeting: “Journalism in action as Worcester News runs a live page for the opening of a new Aldi.”

‘Health and body image warrior’ Katie Lowe (@fatgirlphd): noted: “I know we’re overwhelmed with news but let’s not overlook the Worcester News’ incredible reporting LIVE on new Aldi.”

There were several others of a similar tone.

Now, it is dangerous to take all tweets at face value. There is little space for nuance in a 140-word message. Some of these tweets may be stating a fact, and implying nothing.

Nevertheless, the impression given is that some of these tweets are sneering as us for judging the opening of an Aldi to be worthy of our journalism.

Interestingly, we covered the opening of a new Waitrose supermarket in Worcester in the same way last month.

It drew none of the apparent sarcasm that greeted our Aldi report. Make of that what you will.

For the record, our Aldi blog was the second-most popular story on http://www.worcesternews.co.uk yesterday (beaten by a story about Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton’s visit to a local karting track). As I write this it is still riding high in our most-read list today. We also splashed on the story on our front page.

And, yes, the supermarket did take out a full-page advert in yesterday’s Worcester News (though it was not conditional on it receiving editorial support for its store opening, favourable or otherwise).

Of course, the money it paid, like that from all our other advertisers, contributes to our providing a free online news service, as well as maintaining our social media accounts.

The apparently snobbish response to our treatment of the story appears to have two elements.

Firstly, that we were covering the story in the first place, and, secondly, that we chose to do so using the live blog format.

The news business is changing. Readers are having as much say as journalists about the priorities given to the stories published. Online metrics give us feedback in a way we never had in print-only days about what people want to read about. And there is no doubt that anything to do with shopping, or supermarkets in particular, is popular.

Is it really so appalling to actually deliver stories that people find interesting?

It is also important to know that this sort of news does not necessarily mean our  traditional content is being sacrificed.

This week the Worcester News devoted nine pages to Brexit, had a page of reaction to the Chilcot Report, continued to cover local courts and councils, reported live online on a crucial meeting about the future of Worcester City Football Club, devoted space to schools pictures, obituaries, what’s on listings, and all the usual staples of a traditional community newspaper (and website).

The apparent derision levelled at our decision to use a live-blog was also unmerited.

The use of this format should not be taken as an endorsement that a news story is important or dramatic.

It is merely a flexible and effective way of presenting a developing story online. It is massively popular with readers, who are able to contribute their own observations and pictures using social media or our own website’s comments facility.

Aldi has based its success in the UK by giving its customers what they want. If newspapers do not do the same they risk feeling as sidelined as some of the German firm’s British rivals.

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About John Wilson

Group deputy editor of the Worcester News, Berrow's Worcester Journal, Malvern Gazette and Evesham Journalist. Journalist for more than 30 years.
This entry was posted in local newspapers, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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