Wednesday 11 November 2009

Wainwright defends local press against Monbiot

Martin Wainwright on Comment is free rushes to the rescue of the local press following the hammering it was given by George Monbiot in the Guardian yesterday.
Wainwright says: "Monbiot whacks a very broad brush over Britain's local newspapers, which remain a delight for readers in spite of their ever more threadbare staffing and financial woes."
Wainwright gives examples of good local journalism. "Look at the shortlist for this year's Paul Foot awards, for example. That's a very tough arena for a local to compete with the mighty national media. But there's Rob Waugh of the Yorkshire Post, and most deservedly, for his unpicking of financial weirdness at Leeds Metropolitan University, and, separately, sad and messy accounting at Leeds City Credit Union.
"There are plenty of other examples; compiling the Northerner email/blog for the Guardian every few weeks reminds me of this. I've just done the swiftest of web checks on my top three bookmarks and found the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette prompting an inquiry by the local director of public health; the Ormskirk & Skelmersdale Observer tweaking the tail of mighty Google in a story subsequently followed up by the Guardian, among others and, just to be up-to-date and techy, the Huddersfield Examiner's online forum called Council Brickbats and Bouquets which positively encourages locals to keep Kirklees district up to scratch."
See also: Cambrian News readers bite back at Monbiot

1 comment:

Steve Dyson said...

Good old Martin Wainwright. Pretty shocked, to be honest, that anyone at The Guardian could be moved to comment on Monny's diatribe. Oh, but of course, Mr Wainwright lives and works north of the Watford Gap, unlike the majority of London-based, 'quality' hacks. (Yes, you might holiday backin Rhyl, Monny, but you're mainly in London champagne bars, are you not?) Seriously, I'm really glad a national hack stood up for the regions, as it would almost have been pulling on Monny's line to react as regional editors. That said, while I'm at it, it must be pointed out that Monny's broad brush obviously has no sight of the constant challenging for readers that so many local newspapers do. Off the top of my head: holding public meetings against the controversial merger of City and Sandwell Hospitals (resulting change in plans); constant challenges to the city council over, to name just five issues, the state of swimming pools, cost of newly proposed multi-million pound library, calling for people to decide over elected mayors, revealing and attacking exec officers hotel mini-bar expenses; revealing and attacking 10% plus pay rises for council chiefs, etc, etc; constantly challenging National Express over the state of city buses (including public debate involving plc boss); and it goes on. Another example: we all hate legals, but we are currently fighting two claims from high-profile local firms over stories they did not want in the public domain. Factually, the stories are there, but so enraged are the firms that we published that they are suing for the hell of it. But we're defending, in one case with qualified privilege as the facts came from a public meeting!! Monny has NO idea of any of the above, so it is typical Welsh public schoolboy stuff that he is trying to provoke with.