The big new challenge: to woo the Ho-Hums

Are you an Early Bird or a Techno? A Night Owl or a Ho-Hum? Or, more importantly, are your readers Newshounds? These are some of the breeds of British news consumers identified by opinion pollster MORI in its latest research.

So Early Birds, who apparently account for 13 per cent of the population, are those who get their news at breakfast time, either through radio, TV or a newspaper delivered to their door. Technos (12 per cent) get their news fixes via the internet or mobile phones. Newshounds (14 per cent) use a variety of media and are keenly interested in the details of breaking stories.

The largest cluster are All Rounders (32 per cent), who have a general interest in news, which they get from tabloid newspapers and television bulletins.

But most worrying is that the second largest group are known as Ho-Hums. Yes, more than a fifth of the population has no interest in any news at all, other than the odd bit of celebrity gossip. They have no opinion on the economy and are unlikely to vote.

So all we have to do is figure a way of turning the Ho-Hums into Newshounds and our future is certain. Piece of cake.

And once we’ve done that trifling task, there’s just the small matter of turning this piece of lead into gold, and then sorting out a cure for cancer.

Duty to help Iraqi media

Quick quiz. In which modern-day country was writing first discovered 5,000 years ago? And where was the first Arab newspaper published back in 1868? Clue: it’s been in the news rather a lot lately.

Despite its historic pedigree, the media in Iraq, viciously repressed under Saddam Hussein’s rule, is virtually non-existent.

In an essay for the World Association of Newspapers, Hamid Ali Alkifaey, writes: “The absence of free media helped idolise Saddam Hussein, perpetuate his brutal rule and shake the very fabric of Iraqi society. To ensure that it never happens again, we need a totally free media.”

The rebuilding process, with the help of groups including the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, is already under way.

But with World Press Freedom Day looming next week on 3 May, Alkifaey’s message is one which reminds all Western journalists of their good fortune – and of their responsibility.

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