Benlowndes

a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Tag Archives: regional media

MEN’s ‘model newsroom’ makes more cuts

I was sorry to read today that the Manchester Evening News is making further cuts to its editorial team, with two of the city’s best known business journalists set to leave the paper.

Prolific North has reported that MEN business editor Kevin Feddy and his deputy Simon Donohue have been made redundant and could leave the paper as early as this month.

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Plagiarism plagues the press at all levels

Protest the Pope - 23 - Johann Hari vs Benedict

Johann Hari (Photo credit: lewishamdreamer)

The issue of journalists plagiarising content has hit the headlines recently, most notably with the Independent’s Johann Hari last year.

He was derided as the symbol of unethical journalism in the ‘cut and paste’ age for lifting passages from the work of others to embellish his copy. Having made a name for himself by criticising the wrongs of others, the industry was never going to give him a sympathetic hearing once he was found out.

I don’t have sympathy for him either, but the rest of the media is in no position to crow about this practice in my view; what, after all, does that make the press releases regularly published at all levels of the media?  It isn’t plagiarism in the sense that Hari’s activity was, sure. But it is little more than ‘cut and paste’ reporting in many respects.

There are a couple of things recently that have brought this subject closer to home for me and added to my suspicion that this becoming more common.

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Digital ambition doesn’t hide bad headlines for local press

I can only imagine the reaction of former Johnson Press colleagues when absorbing recent messages from their chief executive Ashley Highfield about the future of the papers they work for.

The ambition to make local news a successful digital product has been talked about for more than a decade, but no regional publisher has yet to make money in this area. So one could be forgiven some scepticism when hearing lines about creating ‘platform neutral’ newsrooms. Mumsnet even gets a mention.

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‘Town hall pravdas’ or keeping people informed?

The recent decision by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee to reject Eric Pickles‘ proposals to restrict the publication of council newspapers has reopened a debate on the role such publications should play.

Waging war on council newsletters in London

In one corner is the Government, which is strongly critical of councils spending public funds on ‘town hall pravdas’ that they see as little better than propaganda magazines. They are supported by regional and local newspaper publishers who cite them as a threat to their businesses because some charge advertising revenue and publish weekly editions, putting them in direct competition with their papers. Publications like H&F News and East End Life (both published by London authorities) are cited of evidence of this trend.

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Tough times for former Sheffield colleagues

Bad news for Sheffield Star

A recent post by Jon Slattery has confirmed what I have been hearing about the continuing problems at my old employers, the Sheffield Star. He reports that staff are balloting to strike next week over plans to cut yet more editorial numbers from an already overstretched newsroom.

I left the paper in 2004, and ballots were taking place then (at that time, it was over pay: strike action was avoided). Nearly seven years and two editors later, it appears that conditions have got worse. Recent stories about painful cock-ups caused by a new production system (see picture, right) have added to the frustration.

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Links I like 10.12.19

Welcome to the ‘chaos theory’ of government – The Observer
The Observer takes an in-depth look at the Government’s Big Society and localism policies, framed around a recent debate where Conservative MP Nick Boles suggested that ‘chaos’ would be more effective than top-down government. In the end, his comments appear to be little more than an expression of the belief that, if power is devolved to local communities, there will be many different approaches to service delivery rather than ‘one size fits all’. That is quite different from the ‘we want to unleash chaos’ piece carried elsewhere on The Observer website. People can watch a video of the debate here.
  
The year’s best regional headline howlers – HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk
On a lighter note, regional journalism website HoldtheFrontPage.co.uk has assembled this collection of headline howlers from the last year – and there are some belters for readers to vote for. The ‘dirty dozen’ includes a couple of entries from my ex-employers, the Sheffield Star. There but for the grace of God…



Locking Parklands deal ‘good news’ all round

How the houses will look (c) St Modwen

Congratulations to HCA colleagues and the South West team at St Modwen for finalising the development agreement that allows work to start at Locking Parklands, near Weston-super-Mare.

The crucial deal unlocks development of the first 100 homes on the former RAF Locking site, which has been dormant for the best part of a decade.

The history of the huge site and the efforts put in by partners to regenerate it is well documented, from its closure as an airbase in 2002 to the HCA’s recent announcement of a £2.5m investment in the delivery of the first homes on the site. It’s great to hear that work is about to start.

It’s also heartening that this latest development has generated plenty of positive media coverage, with national trade titles and regional broadcasters picking up the story yesterday. Twitter was also all a flutter with the news, with corporate feeds syndicating the announcement to their followers. This is well deserved recognition for the work that’s been put in.

It certainly won’t be the last time Locking Parklands hits the headlines either.

Papers prove the best campaigns ‘work’

On the day I complete my latest round of Continuing Professional Development for another year, Roy Greenslade highlights the campaigning newspapers who have created much-needed apprenticeships and training opportunities in their localities.

I remember being impressed by the Bristol Evening Post splash when the paper hit 100 apprenticeships on the first day of its campaign earlier this year. No mean feat in these testing times. It seems, however, the EP got the idea from Ian Mean’s paper, The Citizen, a few months earlier.

It quite literally proves the old newspaper adage that the best campaigns are the ones that work.

Congratulations to the papers who have run these campaigns and made a difference to hundreds of young lives in the process.

Town hall tweets bring budget straight to public

Cornwall Council’s emergency budget meeting last week identified millions in savings, and interest in this was understandably high.

Public sector communicators often wrestle with the question of how best to inform the public about key decisions which impact on the services they receive.

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Work goes on after World Cup woes

Maybe we can win it instead?

If the media rage is to be believed today, our hopes of rebuilding the economy (and possibly win a football tournament) are up in smoke thanks to FIFA’s decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia.

There’s no doubt that hosting the tournament would have delivered a huge economic boost to England and the South West, where Bristol and Plymouth were candidate host cities.

Regional media in both cities dutifully voiced civic leaders’ disappointment at the result, whose hopes for a share of the spoils from the world’s biggest spectator event were dashed.

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