Thursday 15 July 2010

Newcastle editors on covering the Moat story without resorting to chequebook journalism

The editors of Newcastle's two daily newspapers, the Evening Chronicle and The Journal have given a full account today on HoldtheFrontPage of how they covered the unfolding story of gunman Raoul Moat on their patch as the national media moved in, some brandishing large chequebooks.
The account by Paul Robertson, of the Evening Chronicle, and Brian Aitken, of The Journal, follows Steve Dyson's blog on HTFP yesterday in which he praised the Wolverhampton Express & Star for its "live" coverage of the Moat shooting as an example of an evening paper that can still print on the day news.
Robertson and Aitken write sharply: "It has been interesting to read on HoldtheFrontPage editors from outside the North East informing us how they covered the extraordinary Raoul Moat story. Now the dust has settled we thought you might be interested in how we saw it from the North East.
"Here on our doorstep we have had the national newspapers waving huge cheques in front of people's eyes (some of them questionable characters to say the least) in pursuit of a sensational new line. Broadcast media gave breathtaking accounts through the eyes of everyone and anybody (especially ex-cops, psychologists and criminologists) as well as getting our own journalists to appear on screen at the drop of a hat to fill the considerable gaps between the action.
"But from the moment the first shot was fired in the village of Birtley, Gateshead, our team have covered every cough and spit of the story in-print and online quite magnificently."
They say as the story developed: "We began to take calls from associates of Moat wanting vast sums of money for access to the 49-page letter he had apparently written as well as giving some context as to the reasoning for the gunman's actions."
Without resorting to chequebook journalism, the Newcastle editors say their papers dug up plenty of new leads via local contacts, local knowledge and because they were trusted.
They conclude: "And it proved that, despite the turbulent times we are in as an industry, regional newspapers are still trusted, relevant and have the talent to capitalise on the biggest of stories."

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