Why KFC is worth a front-page splash

worcester news kfc front page

FINGER LICKIN’ GOOD: Yesterday’s Worcester News front page

Yet again, the Worcester News’s choice of story for its front page has riled the Twitterati.

Yesterday’s paper revealed that another KFC takeaway, the city’s second, is to open.

But our decision to splash on the story drew derision from some, who felt the story was too trivial to merit its prominent position.

Jon Card (@joncard) said: “Who says local papers are dead? Anybody who reads @worcesternews”, later adding, “Is a new takeaway really the biggest story in Worcester this week?”

Sam Box (@samjbox) said: “Whereas this is good news, I’m not sure it’s worthy of the full front page compared to the story above [a tease for a rape trial that was outside our core circulation area]”.

Tom Guest (@tomguest_), himself a former Worcester News journalist now working in a different industry, tweeted me. He said: “How come this page 7 nib accidentally got used as the front page splash, John?!”

Later he added: “I don’t mean to be critical, I just find this click-bait led era of journalism a bit soulless and depressing.”

But was this story really trivial? Not to our readers, some of whom launched a social media campaign to bring the first branch of KFC to Worcester in 2008.

It is too early for information about how well yesterday’s edition sold, but we do know about the online version of the story.

It was one of the top 10 most popular stories on Newsquest’s network of regional newspaper websites for most of the day, and had almost six times more views than the next most popular story on the Worcester News website.

The story has also been widely shared on the Worcester News Facebook page.

Saying we are getting things wrong in these circumstances is like telling a shop to take its most popular item out of the window because it is selling too well!

What our critics find difficult to accept is that newspapers like the Worcester News are now much more likely to use stories their readers want to read, rather than stories some commentators think they should read.

This does not as a consequence entail dumbing down the news.

Those who see little worth in our KFC story should take time to read some of the comments people are posting, both on our website and Facebook page.

It is a worthy community story in the best traditions of local newspapers, and some interesting points have been raised.

Some question society’s attachment to junk food, despite warnings about its effect on our health.

Others are worried about the litter the new takeaway may bring.

There are concerns, too, about the boy racers who may be tempted to use its car park when darkness falls.

If your life is affected by these issues they are far from trivial, and in less sanctimonious circles our treatment of this story is more likely to be welcomed than sneered at.

This is, incidentally, not the first time the paper has been criticised for giving a prominent showing to a story about the opening of a business (we have not, by the way, received any financial ‘inducement’ from KFC).

Our live report about the opening of a new Adli supermarket drew similar disparaging remarks, and I blogged about it here.

But these stories are relevant to people. Shopping and dining are leisure pursuits that occupy a great deal of their time and interest.

I made the point in my early post, and it is worth repeating, that we do not run stories like these at the expense of more ‘traditional’ news.

The KFC story was, in fact, part of a report from Worcester City Council’s planning committee. In addition to the local authorities, we continue to cover courts, inquests, crime, schools and all the other staples of the regional press.

Far from abandoning serious reporting, we are doing our utmost to ensure it remains relevant.





About John Wilson

Editor of Hereford Times, Ludlow Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard and Gloucestershire Gazette series. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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