Local Heroes

A busy day at the BBC. The tabloids denied their extra pound of flesh, Jonathon Ross free to continue at the BBC. Heavily shackled no doubt but free to continue.

The big news though was the block put on the launch of the BBC’s video led network of local news services.

That move has been applauded by the Newspaper Society, its members claiming that the launch of the BBC service would have put their own local operations out of business.

If that had happened it would have been because a properly funded, well run BBC service would have been in direct contrast to the underfunded, amateurish local journalism that so many of us have to suffer today.

Stewart at Sour Alba has already discussed the disaster that Johnson Press has made of the Scotsman websites, robbing its three titles of a unique online identity, a mess that is reflected in the print editions.

From my own experience Johnston’s Midlothian Advertiser, a paper that, in fairness, was helpful to local charities, had to print an apology a couple of months ago because it printed no fewer than seven mistakes in a three paragraph story about a golden wedding. Apparently a case of a reporter not being able to take notes correctly over the phone.

The general feeling seems to be that we no longer have a local media worth speaking of. Local radio provides nothing. Scottish TV is desperate to jettison any commitment to local news.

Now, and anyone subjected to even five minutes of Jackie Bird’s Children in Need spectacular will agree, BBC Scotland can be dire.

But the BBC Trust appear to be telling the public that they are well served enough already. That’s complete nonsense, this is a victory for the lobbying of media companies who should actually be held to account for the substandard service they provide.

Competition from the BBC may have forced them to up their game. As it is now local media will be left to die out, controlled by companies that either don’t understand or won’t stump up the cash to adapt to a changing world.

And when the local papers have gone, their websites limped into the sunset, commercial regional TV news disappeared what will be left with? Politicians and the BBC Trust screaming at a Director-General telling him to do something about it?

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