Sunday, 9 September 2012

Local Newspapers simply Council propaganda sheets?

I imagine the majority would agree that Y Cnefiwr is one of the best blogs coming from Wales and residents of Carmarthen it seems who wish to know what is happening in their County should turn to it to get an insightful annalist,  Particularly as it now seems that the Carmarthen Journal has failed to report  as he states in his latest blog that ...

"whole string of important local news stories not being reported by the paper. What these stories have in common is that they don't show the County Council in a good light".

This has led to YCnefiwr and fellow blogger to join together and write an open  letter to the Carmarthen Journal which you can see on journal Caebrwyn blog.

Sadly this a problem that is increasing in local newspapers throughout Wales. With local Newspapers desperate for advertisements looking to their local authorities to supply them withs the major source of income via advertising.

This leads Councils to adopt the "Who pays the piper calls the tune"principal . Threatening Editors that they will withdraw advertising revenue if they report the council negatively.

This is relationship ironically is likely to increase,  with Eric Pickles war on "Pravda on the Rates", an attack on the Local Government Free Newspapers which for many (and all parties are guilty of this to various degrees) often seem like propaganda sheets telling us how good their council are not simply telling us what they are doing and providing us with facts on expenditure .

These often expensive glossy freesheets were in themselves  was a threat to Local Newspaper revenues: But if Pickles is successful in ending these sheets Councils (as some already have) will simply  reproduce their "We are great" freeheets in the local Newspaper"  Providing the Editor (who has few staff )with Advertising and Council information  that they will simply reproduce and  print without comment and quietly the Council will threateni that this vital revenue (which the paper may close without) can be withdrawn if any negative reports are published.

In the past Local Newspaper have been at forefront in exposing wrongdoings and even corruption on the Local Council but increasingly they have been forced to simply reproduce Council statements and even censure their letters page if a resident has the nerve to question council policy.

We seem to entering an era where the only true information we can get on what our councils is up to are from Blogs like YCnefiwr and  Caebrwyn and the latter has been the subject of legal harassment from the council.

Perhaps the only real solution is for all of us to start buying newspapers again making them less dependent on the Councils money but then who wants read about Council Leader X opening a new council office and not that he voted to close your local swimming pool.



Shambo said...

Regional papers no longer employ investigative journalists able to spend time on research or analysis. The job is about finding space of copy supplied by PR people. Carmarthenshire has a good number of comms staff who used to work for the local paper. They have the contents and they know the preferred writing style. Plaid need to wise up and do likewise.

glynbeddau said...

You are right about Regional papers no longer employ investigative journalists able to spend time on research or analysis.

However what's happening is that the papers are having a relationship with the controlling group on the council based on Council payments for advertising.

Plaid probably have a better organisation than all the other Parties in Carmarthen put together so its not a question of PR.

And before anyone else says it if Plaid were running Carmarthen they would probably misuse their powers over the Carmarthen Journal as well.

Shambo said...

I don't think advertising comes into it. The relationship between Carmarthen Council and Northcliffe DMGT (Carmarthen Journal, Llanelli Journal and S.Wales Evening Post) has been strained in the past. This came down to the unfair treatment that chief executive Mark James felt he was receiving at the hands of the local press. Politics didn't come into it and if anything the previous leader allowed him a free hand. I don't see Kevin Madge as being any different. My view remains that PR is at fault and that Jonathan Edwards should offer a few master class sessions.