25 Mar 2024

Media Network: Issue 2, 2024

Welcome to the Media Network bulletin, brought to you by MHP Group. Our unrivalled team of former journalists and media experts bring you the latest insights behind the headlines.

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In this edition you will find:

  • A discussion on health news you can use from The Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan and Times
  • Insight from FT Sustainable Views Editor Florence Jones
  • An interview with Daily Star Associate Director Tom Hutchinson
  • Advice on catching the attention of the Guardian’s Health and Inequalities Team
  • The latest news on the 2024 MHP Group’s 30 To Watch: Journalism Awards

News you can use…what it means for health and wellness reporting

MHP’s Jaber Mohamed, former reporter at The Mail on Sunday, recently chaired a panel discussion with Times Health Editor Eleanor Hayward, Cosmopolitan Features Editor Jennifer Savin, & Sunday Times Health Editor Shaun Lintern.

The five key takeaways were:

  1. Personal narratives matter: Firsthand, patient-led narratives resonate most effectively with audiences – our panel told us that their editors are demanding to see these before any stories can be run
  2. The informed consumer: People are now more health-aware, scientifically literate and proactive than ever before, prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic when the public communication of science became a daily norm. For brands, this new reality presents an opportunity to cater products and services to the new health-savvy consumer
  3. Going private: With increasing demand for immediate health solutions, there has been a notable surge in private healthcare utilisation, particularly in self-testing and OTC medication. This trend presents an opportunity for brands to provide accessible and informative resources to meet this demand
  4. Rise of health anxiety: However, while heightened awareness of health and wellness continues, there has been a corresponding increase in health-related anxiety among the public caused by the vast arrays of information that’s now available to us, often via the apps and self-tests that we access to tell us about our health
  5. System pressures: With more information comes more anxiety, but also more helpful spotting of early signs or symptoms or flagging up anomalies for medical follow up. Can the already-stretched NHS deal with all this, and what role can brands play in responsibly supporting and filling the information gap?

So what does this mean for reporting?

  • Health journalists are adapting to this evolving landscape, continuing to report on lengthy NHS waiting lists whilst trying to monitor, understand and sometimes debunk continually unfolding fads, social trends, and healthcare solutions.

And for brands?

  • Reporters are now looking for brands to aid in their storytelling by providing accurate, robust, well-balanced data to build trust and authenticity for media and consumer audiences alike.

Experts the order of the day for FT Sustainable Views

By Mathilde Milpied

With an increasing numbers of brands prioritising sustainability as a key pillar of their communications strategies, MHP’s Mathilde Milpied spoke to Florence Jones, Editor of FT Sustainable Views, about what they look for from businesses.

Can you give us an overview of FT Sustainable Views? 

FT Sustainable Views focuses mostly on long-form, in depth and analytical stories rather than covering breaking news. We write data-driven pieces that cover global trends, with both a UK and European focus. We are especially interested in policy and regulation quite policy/regulations focused – and we are often talking to investors and industry actors who can give us their views on specific green policies and how they impact industries.

Do you cover new research and reports? 

Absolutely. We also have a section called the Knowledge Hub, where we publish smaller pieces (usually under 400 words) based on reports and research – the most important criteria being that the research has to be original and say something we haven’t heard before.

How do you like to work with brands and spokespeople?

The main way I like to work with brands is by having timely access to experts and spokespeople who can add genuine value to my stories, whether by giving analysis the impact of specific policies and regulations on an area that affects their companies, or by providing analysis on data she is writing about. My team and I write pretty quickly – our turnaround is usually between two and five days, so having a quick and reliable access to experts is paramount.

We prefer receiving reports and data under embargo, as it allows us to write up the piece and schedule it ahead of the launch date. We’re not fussed about exclusives: most of our content is long form pieces. 

“Spark a reaction” to get into the Daily Star’s pages

Mischief’s Annie Knight recently spoke to Tom Hutchison, Associate Director at the Daily Star about the stories he’s looking to cover in the coming months and the growing role of AI in their reporting.

According to Tom, the Daily Star is always looking for stories that spark a reaction – whether that’s negative or positive – and that start conversations.

Research stories often work too, but they need to appeal to as wider audience as possible so that readers can relate and make a connection to the data. Breaking down research results based on demographics can be of interest. For example, playing off the north-south divide or generational differences. And if the research story can contradict the status quo or usual arguments around such divides, that’s ideal.

Tom also explained how the team is using AI to enhance their reporting. So far its mainly been used to collect information that provides background and context for an article, so that the team can focus on telling the story. While this usually accounts for a fairly small percentage the piece, it saves writers potential hours of work.

Inequality top of the agenda for The Guardian’s Health team

MHP’s Miles Watson spoke to Tobi Thomas, Health and Inequalities Correspondent at the Guardian about the stories and trends that likely to catch her eye this year.

How does your team operate? 

We’re a team of four – in a typical week we will divvy up press releases, announcements and reports etc. between us and then have our own stories or areas of focus that we’ll be working on.

Alongside general health you cover health inequalities – what’s your definition of that?

It’s a broad term but I understand it as the background reasons which affect people’s health, which could be demographic, socioeconomic, geographic or related to how easily they can access or engage with the NHS.  It’s becoming better understood in public consciousness, especially since the pandemic, but I still think there is more that needs to be done to raise awareness of it.

What kind of stories are you looking out for?

Obviously, the general election and how the parties talk about the NHS will be a big focus for me and the team. In particular, we’ll be looking out for how the parties’ manifestos will talk about the high waiting lists and the ongoing impact of strikes. I’m also interested in mental health and whether any reforms are planned to the Mental Health Act. Beyond this, I’d like to cover stories about maternal health and those which explore discrepancies in life expectancies.

What makes a good health inequalities story for the Guardian?

We need the story to be relevant or pegged to a big report or release of data – there is so much to say about health inequalities that is contained within the data. Case studies are good but really need to be tied to the main story or extremely powerful in their own right.  For example, at the beginning of this year there was a landmark data-driven reportfrom the Institute of Health Equity led by Sir Michael Marmot, the leading health inequalities expert.  I supplemented this by writing a case study about the positive results the city of Coventry is seeing since it became a ‘Marmot City’, meaning all council-commissioned public services have to take into account the impact they have on the health equity of its citizens.

MHP Group’s 30 To Watch: Journalism Awards 2024 is open for entries

By James Rollinson

Back for its 13th year, entries are now open for the MHP 30 To Watch Journalism Awards.  

Celebrating the most talented and influential young journalists in the UK across 10 categories including News & Investigations, Production, Lifestyle, Culture & Entertainment, they are free to enter are open to any journalist aged 30 and younger working across national, regional and trade media.

2024 also sees the introduction a new category, Sport, to mark a momentous year which will see Team GB head to the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, Scotland, England and hopefully Wales’ mens’ football teams compete in Euro 202, two cricket T20 World Cups alongside annual milestones such as Wimbledon and the British Open.

This year’s judging panel is made up of of more than 20 senior editors from across the UK media spectrum, including Former Head of Sky News John Ryley, Good Morning Britain’s Head of Politics Anne Alexander, BBC Breakfast EditorRichard Frediani, PA Media Head of Entertainment & Features Kerri-Ann Roper and Robert Guest, Deputy Editor of The Economist.

Entries close on 19th April, with the awards ceremony taking place on 29th May at the News UK building.

See here for further information: Journalism 2024 | MHP (mhpgroup.com)

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