A change to how the News Letter covers politics: A message from political editor Sam McBride

Dear reader,

Friday, 9th October 2020, 5:55 pm
Political Editor Sam McBride will continue to report from Stormont

I want to inform you of a change to how the News Letter reports politics.

It has been my privilege to cover political developments for the News Letter for more than a decade. In what has been a period of frequent political turmoil, my colleagues and I have sought to understand what is happening around us and then explain it to our readers honestly and accurately.

In that time, our digital audience has consistently grown even as paper sales have declined – a trend familiar to almost every newspaper in the western world as consumer habits change from the tradition of a morning stroll to the newsagent to a morning scroll through news delivered via a phone.

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Now my editor has asked me to make a subtle but significant shift in how our political coverage is delivered to you. Recognising that since the start of the pandemic there has been an explosion in the number of readers paying to read our articles online, my work will increasingly be appearing on the website even before it arrives on newsstands in the newspaper. We will seek to update the website at breakfast time, lunch time, and tea time - as well as throughout the day as stories break.

We will be putting particular emphasis into our online political coverage and investing in this area because my colleagues’ analysis of the articles which subscribers are reading points to their engagement with political stories – whether on the RHI scandal, Sinn Féin’s flagrant disregard for public health advice at Bobby Storey’s funeral, the PSNI’s enforcement of law which simply did not exist, a senior civil servant meant to be making Stormont less secretive actually presiding over the wrongful suppression of potentially embarrassing material, or scores of other stories unique to the News Letter.

This newspaper has given me remarkable freedom to pursue stories which are in the public interest, without fear or favour, and report that to the people who ultimately pay our wages – you, our readers. We can only do that journalism with your support - whether you are a reader who buys a copy of the paper or who subscribes to our website.

I want to sincerely thank you for your support for our journalism - especially to those who have subscribed online in recent months. It is the huge increase in digital paying subscribers which has meant that the News Letter has not lost any of our journalists since the start of this crisis, even as many other newspapers have been shedding staff.

The News Letter has been reporting on politics since 1737 and I can assure you that the essence of what we do - informing you of political developments, especially those which are not being reported by larger media outlets, regardless of who it offends, and explaining complex concepts or legislation simply - is not going to change.

But you will now be able to get your news faster on our website if you wish, or slower and in the traditional form which holds such fondness for myself and so many of my colleagues.

Thank you and best wishes for the difficult winter which lies ahead of us all,

Sam

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A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

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Alistair Bushe

Editor