The Media

In the 1960’s and 70’s I was heavily involved in politics. I was Chairman of the Cumbria Liberal Party, I co-chaired the Britain in Europe campaign in 1975 with Willy Whitelaw (MP for Penrith & The Borders and Minister of State for Northern Ireland at the time), I was agent for Allan Beith when he was elected as Liberal MP to the Berwick Constituency in 1973.

I knew exactly which pubs in Newton-le-Willows, and later in Carlisle, to go to in order to meet up with the stringer for the Earlestown & Newton News, the Warrington Guardian, the St. Helens Reporter, the Cumberland News or the Westmorland Gazette.

Pay for a couple of pints of mild and you had a few inches in the following weeks newspaper, or a spot on BBC Radio Carlisle, or even Border Television (both of which required attendance at the Pinegrove Hotel on London Road, Carlisle).

Stringers have gone, reporters never get off their bums, they send a contract photographer to get a shot which they may, or may not, use.

People still buy local newspapers but these are available, free of charge, on line and the news on line changes nearly every hour. National papers are exactly the same. Most people read national daily’s on line, only commuters buy hard copies.

The exceptions are people who buy newspapers because they are deeply in to crosswords. And, of course, people who read the best newspaper available in the UK (very few pictures, no tat) the Financial Times.

The reason that TV and Radio programs never (ever) mention the FT is that the FT only reports facts and does not report speculation, therefore it lacks “public interest”. Personally I prefer straight up and down facts, I will then do the speculation on what the facts mean.

My rant is now over.  But I would love to hear the opinions of all of you as to what it is you see or read which helps to form your opinions.

John Keegan


2 thoughts on “The Media”

  1. John … do agree about FT … we subscribe to one of the others, and keep with it partly for the puzzles, partly for the obituaries, and partly because various of the feature articles & interviews from time to time provide useful insights …

    Chris (over at Yealand)

  2. Hi –
    Can I just chip in my tuppence worth on this topic?

    I’m a retired journalist, counting the BBC and the Westmorland Gazette as two of my previous employers. I now live in Kirkby Lonsdale.

    Over the years, the media has been victim to the accountants as have many other businesses. When I was a working scribe or radio reporter/producer, we enjoyed the luxury of ‘the story dictates the action.’ In other words, if the story was worth it, all the stops were pulled out and we counted the cost afterwards.

    Today, before a story is judged to be worth chasing, the question is ‘can we afford it?’

    In other words, news values have given way to financial concerns.The only way to deal with this is to create your own stories and feed it to the media on a plate. You have to do their work for them.

    Plan ahead. Some examples:
    1. Arrange to meet your MP or someone who can help with the campaign. Make some banners or posters to take with you. Then tell the media where and when that meeting is taking place. Tell them you’ll have someone available to talk to a reporter immediately after the meeting. If they can’t send a reporter, arrange to telephone them back with your side of the story. Take a photo of yourselves at the meeting and send it to the media.
    2. Organise a petition. Pick the venue for signing it – a local shop, or pub. Tell the media where and when. If they can’t turn up, take a photo of people signing (get their permission), and send it to the media with the number of signatures obtained. When you are delivering the petition to whoever it is aimed at, repeat this exercise.
    3. Identify someone who is really suffering from lack of buses (not for social reasons, better for health or education reasons) and highlight their story. (I know you’ve done something like this already, but it’s worth keeping up the pressure).
    4. Don’t do things only once. A protest approach to your MP, the bus companies, the local authority, can gain news value if it is a repetitive event. It also demonstrates your determination to get something done.

    As I said, just my tuppence worth … hope it helps. All the above can be adapted for other actions – letter-writing, face-to-face meetings, rallies, marches, attending local council meetings, etc etc.


    Allan Muirhead

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