Former Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson takes a critical look at the Bury Times in his new Dyson at Large blog, hosted by HoldtheFrontPage, today.
Steve reckons that the paper should have splashed on a story from the letters' page - furious residents complaining about the lack of rubbish collections blamed on the snow- rather than its 'Ghost Town' front (pictured). He says he can count 10 pedestrians in the picture of the "deserted" town centre.
Steve adds: "I don't want to be too critical. Despite foul weather, the editorial teams got newspapers out on time with readable content. But I reckon far more papers would have sold last week if the Bury Times had splashed on the story staring them in the face." Update: Ian Savage, editor in chief of The Bolton News and Bury Times group, has responded with a posting on Steve's blog: "As a newspaper it is our duty to hold councils to account and criticise them when justified - and I can assure you that we do. But we really believed that it was unreasonable to suggest that the council should grit and clear all side roads. As a result bin wagons were unable to access many homes, hence a few gripes. And here's the crucial thing - we were not inundated with complaints, which is generally a good barometer of public opinion. But we were happy to print the letters - and did. To lead on a story about a gritting crisis/bin collection crisis would have been poor journalism in my view - knee jerk council bashing based on (although heartfelt) relatively few complaints."
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
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