I have been lucky to be able to answer this question from a first-hand perspective after spending a week at Metro newspaper which commands 1.3m readers, and set about discovering where journalists get their news from. Surely they don’t look it all up on Wikipedia?!
The answer is almost as depressing. Newspapers (or at least big ones such as Metro) subscribe to a few news agencies such as Associated Press, Press Association and Reuters. Journalist ‘hack’ types simply pick which news stories they think will suit their target audience and simply rewrite or tweak the story and place it in the newspaper. No wonder they’re paid so little.
I spent a week at Northcliffe Media, and as of July 2009, the media giant was responsible for 4 titles- Metro, The Daily Mail, London Lite and The Evening Standard. The Independent have recently moved their staff to the Northcliffe offices in Kensington and the company command a weekly circulation of almost 7 million from their High St Kensington offices.
I have only had one work experience placement and cannot argue with any great conviction that state of UK newspapers’ news gathering techniques is completely devoid of it’s own ideas. But what I did see at the UK’s 4th largest read newspaper was a drab, flat, monotonous and almost pointless exercise.
This wasn’t what I got into Journalism for.