by UnHerd
Wednesday, 20
May 2020
Seen Elsewhere

UnHerd and the UK new media landscape

Don't miss our write-up in the i newspaper
by UnHerd

Don’t miss The i newspaper’s piece about new media coverage of coronavirus coverage this week. Pointing to the record traffic news websites are seeing since lockdown, Ian Burrell singled out UnHerd for its willingness to “challenge simplistic headlines with nuance and context”:

This pandemic offers us time to be more discriminating in the news sources we turn to and to be less hurried in our consumption of information. UnHerd is a case in point.

UnHerd pieces can run to 2,000 words. A piece by Freddie Sayers on Sweden’s approach to quarantine hedged its bets under the headline “Jury still out on Swedish coronavirus strategy” but still attracted high traffic. Sayers presents Lockdown TV, UnHerd’s YouTube channel, which had 2.2 million views in the past month for lengthy videos including a 36-minute interview with epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, before his recent resignation.

This approach to digital journalism is counter to the notion that only extreme views can generate traffic. “Polemic for me is the last thing that readers want at the moment,” says Chatterton. “They come for the science and a clear-eyed, critical look at these issues.”

- Ian Burrell, The I

Join the discussion

  • Despite sky-high tuition fees, universities were already in financial trouble before the virus hit. The obvious reason is that enormous amounts of money have been wasted on paying a caste of overpaid, over-numerous managers, and on building snazzy new buildings which look great but which are often not fit for academic purpose. Money is also wasted on unhelpful bureaucratic initiatives like the REF and the TEF, which demand that scholars and teachers jump through statistical hoops rather than doing their jobs.

    While Conservative and Blairite administrations preached the virtues of deregulation in the private sector, they have imposed a Stalinist level of centralised control over higher education institutions that were once independent and self-governing. Our university system, when it was run properly by the academics who taught and researched in it, was the finest in the world. How have the mighty fallen!

    The colleague cited above comments that “One of the biggest learning curves I’ve found is embracing change as a set of new perspectives rather than a series of threats.” But we must ask why academics have come to feel that change equates to threat in the first place. It is surely because almost every change that they have endured in recent years has been a change for the worse.

    Fortunately there is a straightforward solution. It is to change things, as far as possible, back to the way they were.

  • it is staggering that the current generation of journalists are keener on airing their views than finding out facts and thereafter drawing conclusions. I echo the congratulations to Freddie who interviews in a style from which numerous high-profile and highly paid interviewers could learn many lessons. Unherd has been a beacon of enlightenment which certainly helps me during a period of media induced hysteria – so many of these reporters have not got the guts to be boring – BBC reported on two bikers buying fish and chips in Whitby whilst at the same time ignoring Nobel laureates Michael Levitt & Luc Montagnier.

  • I couldn’t agree more, Unherd has been a breath of fresh air and reasoned analysis, in sharp contrast to the usual macabre media headlines and non-contextualised uses of data.

    I can only hope that The Independent itself will now follow in your footsteps. So far it has been one of the worst offenders for headline grabbing and political point-scoring over the pandemic.

    Lets hope they learn from you how to report with a clear and level head; as the public has a right to expect from its media, especially now.

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