Anyone who has worked in the regional press will be able to tell you about the joys of dealing with national journalists.
The undisguised patronising tone of whet behind the ears, straight out of media studies classes national hacks as they sneer at the supposed knowledge of news editors who have eaten more hot dinners than they’ve written scoops.
The joy of turning up at court with your snapper carefully hidden away ready to take that vital snatch shot only to find PA or the BBC have set up camp in full view of all and sundry, allowing your target to sneak out a back door or cover their head with their coat.
Discovering your carefully crafted and researched front page has been copied and pasted into a tabloid under the by-line of some hack better suited to writing about Kim Kardashian or Katie Price.
Of course, there are many, many quality journalists working on the nationals, but for every one of these there is a celebrity chasing churnalist or supremely arrogant desk jockey.
Only last week a hard-working, local entertainments reporter told The Blog how she had sat next to a reporter from The Times at a musician’s funeral.
The conversation went something like this:
Local reporter: ‘So, where are you from?’
Times reporter: ‘The Times. You?’
Local reporter: ‘The local paper here.’
Times reporter, turning his back on her: ‘Oh.’
It is a subject taken up in the Grey Cardigan’s March column.
‘Bizarrely, the local ‘rag’ is now being celebrated in some parts, albeit in an extremely patronising tone. The Times recently ran a piece with the sub-head “The decline of regional newspapers threatens a unique reporting tradition” and then allowed somebody called Jack Malvern to spend 2,000 words rubbishing much of what we do.
‘I don’t think Jack Malvern has ever worked on a regional, so he had to rely on his experience of sifting agency stories during “occasional” shifts as a copytaster.
‘And we all know that, with respect, agency copy often bears little resemblance to the original story that appeared in our pages.
‘But he can also call on his colleagues, many of whom will have got their start on a regional, for more ammo: “The older generation are well served by local newspapers,” he writes, “in part because they make up a substantial proportion of the readership. Michael Shaw, comment editor of the Times Educational Supplement, had to cover his share of 50th wedding anniversaries for the Bristol Evening Post. ‘Get a group of local reporters in a room and it’s always a matter of time before they start moaning about 50th wedding anniversaries,’ he says. ‘When you ask couples, ‘What’s the secret of a good marriage?’ they always say ‘Give and take’.
‘My colleague Will Stewart, formerly of the Yorkshire Post, got a better answer, though. The woman replied: ‘Well, ‘e never ‘it me’.”
‘Oh what jolly japes. Let’s take the piss out of the provincials.’
With thanks: Grey Cardigan
State of Play: Stop biting the hand that feeds you