Departing words strike a chord

The departing words of a local newspaper editor echo what many people think about the current state of journalism. After 25 years working in the local press – and two-and-a-half years as an editor – Steve Dancey is leaving the Andover Advertiser. At his farewell do, according to Hold The Front Page, he said: “People employed in big organisations’ corporate communications departments are happy to puff out endless useless press releases for the band of lazy journalists to cut and paste, but their parallel function is to obstruct and prevent reporters getting to the truth.

“Sadly, fewer and fewer local reporters seem to have the time or inclination to properly research stories fully. However in just a few years there won’t be much of the industry left to worry about.”

Journalists of a certain vintage will agree wholeheartedly and unfortunately if there is laziness, it is not confined to newspapers. As a former editor and producer of BBC Look North I try to avoid being critical of the programme. No, really. Today’s lunchtime Look North featured a report about young women having strokes. Very sad and very interesting, unless you had been watching the BBC’s national news five minutes earlier. There was a report about young women having strokes, featuring the same case study and same woman from the Stroke Association with the same pictures and the same interview clips. Obviously Look North had gathered the material for the national programme and though it is good to see the North East featured on network news – even in the circumstances of this story – is it too much to ask to expect producer to speak to producer? The result is Look North looks daft and the audience feels short-changed. Sadly, this repetition seems to happen far too regularly and don’t get me started on the number of stories from North Yorkshire appearing on the programme.

As a former editor and producer of BBC Look North I try to avoid being critical of the programme. Really.