The largest weekly newspaper in Northern Ireland has started publishing news stories and advertising in different languages as part of an initiative to reflect the growing diversity of its readership and local community.
The title says it has made the move because 10% of the local population do not have English as their first language. It hopes the new languages will help people from Europe feel more integrated into the local community.
Speaking to Hold the Front Page (check out the site’s coverage of the story to see how the Courier presents news and advertising in the four different languages), Jonathan Taylor, managing director of Alpha Publishing Group, which owns the Courier, said: “This investment by Alpha is based upon the fact that 10% of the local population have European languages as their first language.
“Many of them work in the meat and poultry industries and contribute to the economy by their taxes and purchases in our local retail outlets.
“Alpha, with a circulation of 68,000 is the largest weekly newspaper group in Northern Ireland, and we hope that by introducing these languages local people from Eastern Europe will feel more integrated into the community and identify with it.”
Here are two takeaways from the Courier’s project:
1. Community diversity
Communication is crucial to community cohesion. As the UK’s population becomes increasingly diverse, the importance of community inclusion is increasingly being recognised. If people who do not have English as their first language cannot access the services they need or find out information, disenfranchisement and disengagement can result.
The Courier’s move means everyone in Tyrone can find out what’s happening in their area, making them feel a much more integral part of their community. Translated content is even more crucial in spheres like healthcare and law.
More and more hospitals are recruiting interpreters so doctors can communicate with patients and many are offering guidance booklets and other literature in foreign languages. Similarly many legal firms are hiring interpreters to assist their clients, and using translated documents for international cases.
2. Breathing new life into struggling print publications
It is a difficult time for print-based news publications. As they continue to face pressure from digital media, many are struggling. In the first half of 2013, nearly half of the UK’s regional daily newspapers lost print sales at a rate of more than 10% year-on-year. And there have been big casualties: late last year the 158-year-old Liverpool Post was closed down by its owner Trinity Mirror, citing falling circulation and a drop in demand for advertising.
While some print papers are looking online to revenue generation models such as paywalls and native advertising, the Courier’s initiative should be regarded as innovative. Will we see other titles start offering translated content to reflect multilingual UK?