President Obama coverage on the UK's regional press websites

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 21 January 2009

Judging by the saturation coverage, if you weren't writing about Obama yesterday, you weren't writing anything worthwhile. So I thought I might as well be as opportunistic as the Scottish Conservative Party, and join in the fun.

My take on the inauguration was inspired by the BBC London television news in the morning. It seemed that the most important story for Londoners about London was that some people from London were going to be in America to watch some stuff that wasn't about London.

With that in mind, I thought I'd have a quick whizz around the 20 regional newspaper websites that I've been reviewing to see what, if any, coverage of the USA's big day they had to offer, and whether they'd tried to wrap a local angle on it.

UK regional press screenshots

Aberdeen Press & Journal  Aberdeen Press & Journal

Actually the Conservative's suggestion that Barack get his own tartan propelled news of the President to the front page of the Aberdeen Press & Journal site. This was one of the few sites to be featuring news from the US in the afternoon run-up to the ceremony.

Belfast Telegraph  Belfast Telegraph

The Belfast Telegraph had a considerable amount of coverage, and in the afternoon Obama was the #1 story. The paper had a URL specifically for their inauguration content at belfasttelegraph.co.uk/obama, and was promoing upcoming video coverage of the event.

Obama in the Belfast Telegraph

Manchester Evening News  Manchester Evening News

The Manchester Evening News had a couple of homepage features about President Obama in the afternoon leading up to the inauguration. John Stapleton's report on the preparations in the US was the teaser encouraging surfers to pick up a copy of the printed edition.

Manchester Evening News Obama promo

The paper was also running a video package about Obama on the 'Channel M News' portal, and for light relief had a clutch of odd Obama stories.

Obama video on the Manchester Evening News site

After the ceremony was over, the paper also reproduced the full text of Obama's address.

Eastern Daily Press  Norfolk Eastern Daily Press

During the day, Norfolk's Eastern Daily Press had seemed mostly concerned with events at Norwich City FC rather than those in Washington DC, but by the evening it had published a story about Barack Obama, and also reproduced the text of his speech.

Obama coverage in Norfolk's Eastern Daily Press

Portsmouth  Portsmouth News & Sports Mail

Portsmouth's The News featured a piece by Sarah Foster. She had been talking to Americans living in the region about their opinions of the upcoming Obama Presidency under the foreboding headline "Poverty, debt and war: Can Obama rescue America?".

Obama story in Portsmouth

This Is  This is South Wales

On the 'This is South Wales' site they were able to take a specific local angle on events, as they had some quotes from retired Welsh teacher Bill Messer who briefly taught Barack Obama.

A Welsh angle on the Obama story

Teesside Gazette  Teesside Evening Gazette

The Teesside Evening Gazette had a homepage vote about the amount of media coverage of the day's events, and found that nearly three-quarters of those voting thought there was 'too much'.

Obama media coverage vote

The Gazette indulged those feelings by not having any other coverage on their homepage.

Elsewhere...

I did two passes through the 20 sites I've been reviewing, on at 4pm (about an hour before the inauguration ceremony in the UK) and again at 9:30pm. None of the rest of the local paper sites I usually review had any Obama coverage on their homepages. Some of the stories that were making the splashes on these sites instead included Inverurie Locos’ Scottish Cup clash with Motherwell being postponed, a stolen Birmingham football mascot, the engineering complexity of a new Forth Bridge, school closures, a gun find on a golf course and the impending collapse of a pub crib league.

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