A good local newspaper will not be afraid to upset its advertisers.
That was the view of Sir Harold Evans, the former editor of The Times and Sunday Times, in an article championing the Newspaper Society’s Local Newspaper Week.
He reveals how angry Ahston-under-Lyne residents besieged the newsdesk over an error he made as a junior reporter for the town’s Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter newspaper.
‘I had an early taste as a 16-year-old beginner on the Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter in Lancashire when I erred in compiling the winners of a dog show, and again as editor of the regional morning daily, The Northern Echo, when a Home Page article I published had angry fruit and veg retailers besieging the office,’ he writes.
‘These were altogether good responses because the offended readers regarded the local paper I worked for in each instance as their newspaper. They expected their newspaper to get their names right, of course, but crucially to respect and reflect the community’s best values, to fight against delinquencies, big and small, blatant and concealed, and to provide a platform – a megaphone – for individuals and groups.’
He added: ‘I must stress that the relationship between a local newspaper and its community has to be robust. If the relationship is be based on mutual respect, the local newspaper may have to puncture local pride, risk offending advertisers as well as authority; mere boosterism is no substitute for honest, thorough reporting ‘.
Source: The Newspaper Society
State of Play: Therapeutic