Friday, May 15, 2009

Council papers - journalism they aint

I can fully understand why journalists on the breadline find the lure of jumping ship to council papers so attractive. But I can’t understand how they can still call themselves journalists. They’re not. They’ve taken the very well-trodden path across the road to PR.

It was ever thus. More than once a town hall took one of my promising, albeit starving, young reporters and gave them a living wage to write the sort of press releases they’d have rewritten or spiked a few days earlier. But they became as much a part of the spin machine as Alistair Campbell did when he left the Mirror for Whitehall – and never made any secret of it.

The defections have grown in line with the rise of council newspapers which are, in the main, awful. OK, in house magazine terms, which is more or less the genre in which I’d place them, some are not bad. But don’t let’s persist in the notion that they any more deserve a place in the media than the corporate newsletters big companies place in dump bins in the factory canteens.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with you Richard.
Most of the journalists I've worked with who have gone into PR, just couldn't hack door knocking especially if it involved talking to the family of someone killed in an accident etc.
To me they were the reporter you would give a council hand out to rewrite.
But let's not forget most of the council PR propaganda only gets into weekly and some evening papers, because they are run on a shoestring and reporters don't have the time to follow them up as the did in the good old days when they had to fight for space with real stories.
Ps I bet Campbell is glad he doesn't have to spin the fraud in the HoC that's been exposed by your old paper.

Richard Burton said...

I've got a copy of the Eastendlife in front of me. Its splashes on: Housing plan gives hope to overcrowded.Other page leads:
Your chance to apply for youth club cash boostFoster children need you! (their screamer)Relax and tuck in at new cafe
Bin it to avoid £80 fine.Enough said?