Steve Dyson can't be accused of pulling his punches in his review of The Press, York, today in his blog hosted by HoldtheFrontPage.
In fact he gives the Newsquest title a right battering. He starts: "I felt a little cheated in my role as a roving reader when I picked up The Press."
Steve doesn't like the way the sudden death of a 13-year-old local girl is downplayed when the splash 'MAN, 48, DIES IN YORK PARK' is about an unknown vagrant who collapsed in a park.
"Was it a fight, a shooting, a stabbing, perhaps a mugging gone wrong? No such drama, just an anonymous tramp who'd collapsed; disturbing and sad, but hardly headline news. Was it just a quiet news day, with what should have been a page three stick pumped up to a splash because there was nothing else around?
"Er, not quite. In a bizarre combination, the third par of the lead write-off read: "Meanwhile, in a separate incident a 13-year-old girl died after collapsing near her home. Whoah... hold the front page, stop the presses... a real story, surely worth a page one headline."
He adds: "The Press had her name, her school, a tribute from her headmaster and more from her Facebook page, so what on earth prevented this being that day’s splash?"
Steve comments: "The York newsroom has had a tough time of late, Newsquest forcing its editor to compete for his own job against the managing director just over a year ago. It was good to see Kevin Booth clinching another chair at the Burton Mail, but cutbacks continued at York, its press closed and production moved to Bradford and more jobs going last February.
"Such changes are stressful, but I only hope this edition was an aberration, and that editor Steve Hughes has enough resources to maintain morale and quality at a level to impress readers on most days."
Ouch! Peter Cole and Tony Harcup note in their new book Newspaper Journalism that newspapers don't like to be criticised by media academics. They also hate to be criticised by ex-editors. HoldtheFrontPage better put up the sandbags.
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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