Publisher Hits Out At BBC Local Media Report

David Higgerson of Trinity Mirror has hit out at a BBC report into the local media industry, labelling the piece “horrendously inaccurate,” “one-sided” and harmful to the local media sector. 

Writing in his blog this week David, digital publishing director, Trinity Mirror Regionals, said that the piece, which was broadcast on Radio 4’s PM programme and then followed up with a piece online, could have been a useful opportunity to discuss the challenges facing the industry but completely failed to mention the key challenges of funding local journlaism in the digital environment. 

In a withering assessment of the report, David writes: “Most crucially, there’s zero discussion of online news – or the revenue challenges which afflict all publishers. These aren’t just nice to haves when discussing the impact of journalism, or the future of journalism, but the very cornerstones on which to have the discussion. And much more relevant than the fact the Coventry Evening Telegraph’s old offices are becoming a pop-up tourist attraction in their own right.

“An HMRC court case involving former Cambridge News owners Iliffe Media is referenced, but not a word about the fact Lord Iliffe has launched a new newspaper, the Cambridge Independent, in competition to his old title. Far be it from me to celebrate the competition, but doesn’t that strike you as odd?

“The nearest we get to the true issues facing journalism is when Bureau Local’s editor Megan Lucero is interviewed and says: “It rests on how we see journalism- do we see it as a service or do we think it needs to thrive alone as a business? That is a decision we have to make as a society.”

“The tragedy of the PM piece is that it will inform views of the local media by people who don’t know the ins and outs of what’s really going on – and that false impression should be a source of shame to the BBC, and one it should look into.

“I hate moaning about journalism, because there are enough people doing it already. But when, as a journalist, you come away from a piece of work knowing it’s wrong, and unable to work out why it’s so wrong, you start to see the world through the eyes of people who feel the media gets things wrong.

“When challenged on this, Hutton said she didn’t have space to mention everything she had wanted to. Which as a journalistic excuse, especially when so vocally critical about those you subsequently report on, doesn’t wash. Maybe the BBC will consider making their online piece more balanced now. And follow up on the PM programme with a more considered piece. We live in hope.

“Amol Rajan, the BBC’s media editor, took to Twitter to praise the piece. The BBC’s Welsh media editor did too. That neither could see how hopelessly one-sided and fundamentally inaccurate the PM piece and the follow-up online article were, is as astonishing as it is frightening.

“Local journalism is too important to be misrepresented in such a one-sided way. Doing so only harms it further.”