• Identities and communities: negotiating working-class identity in the regional press

      Steel, John; University of Sheffield (Edinburgh University Press, 2020-11)
      This chapter examines of how regional newspapers sought to represent working-class interests during three distinctive periods of the twentieth century: the 1930s, the 1950s and the 1980s. In doing so, it examines the negotiation newspapers had to make between national and regional identity as well as class and ideological affiliation. The chapter also provides a more focused case study as an example of where regional and national editorial agendas were negotiated around a particular issue – the Sheffield marches for free speech in 1914 in the pages of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph. The case study and the three historical periods under examination emphasise stories which signal the ways in which working-class identity is being negotiated within their specific constituencies by emphasising key ideological parameters of this negotiation. The material presented here stresses how, in seeking to represent and reflect (Bell 1984) both the distinctive local character of their readership and also a particular moral and political outlook, regional newspapers were seeking to provide a more nuanced and less confrontational news product than their national counterparts. Such nuance reflects the process of negotiation as regional newspapers were pulled, Janus-faced, in two opposing directions: one that sought to connect with and reflect their readers’ interests, the other reinforcing particular notions of place and class status – the more explicit ideological character of newspapers’ coverage. Though negotiation resonates in a wide variety of stories and newspaper content, it is at its most stark when the regional titles cover topics centred around economic hardship, industrial disputes and party-political affiliation and it is these stories that form the main focus of this survey.