Benlowndes

a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Tag Archives: Roy Greenslade

‘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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‘Andy Gray-gate’ highlights slack media practice

Andy Gray’s sacking today after another of his puerile outbursts (this time to colleague Charlotte Jackson last month, above) has taught him a harsh lesson. Someone of his experience should know that ‘private’ (as in off air) comments are still fair game if someone within earshot finds them offensive enough to share with the media. In fact, if you utter them in a room full of people, it isn’t very ‘private’ at all, and therefore probably best kept to yourself.

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Spokesman becomes ‘the story’ some would rather ignore

I blogged recently on the media’s general reluctance to report on matters involving itself, which became impossible following the irresponsible coverage of the Joanna Yeates murder investigation.

And so it is with yesterday’s resignation of Number 10’s former director of communications Andy Coulson, who quit amidst continuing allegations over his role in the phone hacking controversy at the News of the World. In doing so, he has sparked one of the stories of the year; one which refuses to go away and which his former employers at News International would probably much rather downplay.

For evidence of this, you only need to look at the coverage that followed yesterday’s announcement. The Guardian, who pursues this story with an almost obsessive zeal, went to town on it again yesterday, with a mountain of analysis and questions about the police, governance at News International and David Cameron’s judgement.

The coverage on the website of News International sister paper The Sun, however, is much less critical.

You can see Mr Coulson’s statement, issued yesterday, in full here.

Links I like 11.01.08

Squalid truth behind the Sun’s murder reward’ – Media Guardian
Roy Greenslade takes aim again at the tabloid press, and The Sun in particular, whose offer of a £50,000 reward to help catch Joanna Yeates’ killer is treated with cynicism. He should know; Greenslade was once a senior executive at the paper, when Kelvin MacKenzie (think ‘Freddie Star ate my hamster’, or worse) was editor.

Homes for heroes win £660k grant – Bristol Evening Post
I blogged about this fantastic self-build project over Christmas after working on the story just before the festive break. It’s great to see it win some more deserved recognition early in the new year.

Media turns fire on itself over reporting of Bristol case

The concerns surrounding some media reporting of the Joanna Yeates murder case in Bristol have become more public since I blogged about it a couple of days ago.

It emerged yesterday that Avon and Somerset Police took the rare step of banning ITV News from its morning press briefing because it had run a story the previous night that was the force thought was unfairly critical of its investigation. The ban was lifted, and the report did not threaten to undermine potential legal proceedings (as other reports have done). But it’s a measure of how tense things have become, and illustrates how the media risks misjudging the balance between reporting freely (which should always be allowed) and irresponsibly (which the police are right to act against, in the interests of finding Joanna Yeates’ killer).

Meanwhile, the Bristol Evening Post’s splash yesterday reported how media organisations were written to by suspect Christopher Jefferies’ lawyers and warned of their probing into, and reporting of, their client’s life. The high number of reader comments underneath the story (not all are relevant, admittedly) demonstrate the strength of feeling and interest there is locally about the case.

When I worked in newspapers, it was made clear that you did not write stories about the antics of fellow journalists; the public was ‘not interested’ in such introspection. When the news media does report on itself, you can be sure that something is seriously amiss, as Roy Greenslade points out here.

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.

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