April 16, 2012 · Politics Etc...

Safe to say all is not well with the regional press. The Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post are to share an editor, and a number of dailies such as the Halifax Evening Courier and the ones in Kettering and Northampton will change to weeklies. Once you cut through the nonsense about things like “digital inclusion” and such like, there are two main reasons. One, regional press doesn’t make a lot of money. Two, the quality of reporting is dreadful. For a long time it’s covered the type of stories that no one would really want to pay for: I remember one year when the main headline in the Christmas edition of the Hebden Bridge Times was “New Toilets to Open Soon”. That was in the 1990s and I’m afraid to say it’s gone downhill since.

Budgets for regional reporting have been seriously cut over the years and the quality has suffered as a result. Reducing the number of reporters means that a lot of regional stories are slightly rehashed press releases from the local council or the police. There’s usually a press release from the Tax Dodgers’ Alliance there as well. When they do have original reporting, it’s often easy human interest stuff. Cutting down the number of subeditors means typos and howlers pass through unnoticed. Moving printing presses and merging editors’ roles mean that local knowledge is lost.

Where does the money come from? Nowhere really. Property tends to go on places like rightmove.co.uk with just a small selection in the papers. A lot of small ads have moved to places like eBay or Freecycle. Job adverts also tend to get posted online.Surprisingly the only really guaranteed source of income are those official notices of things like planning applications and roadworks which have to appear in a published newspaper

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