Thursday, 29 November 2012

Proof Read all about it – When the local press goes wrong... My tale of when the local press goes wrong

n the past couple of months apart this blog I have also been writing for my local daily newspaper, the Portsmouth News in their weekend television pull-out, sharing a TV Nostalgia column with a another writer looking at programmes past. Now I have been enjoying doing this and do it just for the love of writing, maybe naïve you might say to do something like that. But something occurred within the past week which has maybe made me think again about this.

Last Saturday, an article was posted of my work on the subject of Van Der Valk. Now for the past couple of weeks they have been using another writer Nick Collins who also works for the paper and printed his articles in the slot for the past few Saturdays. So I was relieved to finally see my work in the paper. But was shocked to read that Mr Collins had been created with my work, my intellectual copyright given to him over what I had written. So naturally, you can understand I was not happy with this. That is why I have taken to my blog to explain what has gone on.

On Monday, I contacted the editor about this matter to complain in a polite way that I should be owed an apology for this. With getting this reply, he said that the byline of the column was not changed as it was a template and “that an apology would be issued underneath this week's column in the pull-out this Saturday.” and that it doesn't make it less disappointing and he copied his features editor into the email so he could see the reply. OK, I thought. But I didn't think this go far enough at all, I suggested that an apology could go in the weekend pull out but also an apology maybe in the editor’s column in the main paper as well.

Then on Tuesday, I received an email from the man temporally in charge of the TV pages as his colleague is on leave. He said “It was my fault. I can only apologise. No excuses. I am standing in for the person who normally does the page and the page itself was templated with Nick's byline and I didn't change it.” he continued “I'm doing this week's TV pages too and running your column on This Is Your Life. I'm putting a correction on the bottom about the error last week and of course, changing the byline.”

Again I emailed the editor about this asking once again for an apology in the weekend pull out, but also in the main paper as well. This being a satisfactory conclusion as far as I was concerned to this matter. This is still an ongoing situation, I am still awaiting their reply to this... If I need to I will come back to the subject to update you what is happening, but it maybe a case of the little guy against the might of the local press. But no matter what, I shall not give up until I get the right conclusion.

In this of all week with the Leveson report coming out and with such serious issues with the press, it begs question about thing being checked before they go to print. This itself went to print in the paper itself, but in such serious times things like that can spiral out of control leading to confusion totally. I am not saying that the press should be heavy regulated or left free, that is your mind to make up. But if the smallest thing can be allowed to get through the net without checking, then something could snowball into a situation. We rely on the press to bring us the stories especially which are local to us which may not get a look in to the national press, it may seem to others that it is just full of council meetings and non-news. They do serve a purpose, with them informing communities of what is going on. Their focus is on maximising their local coverage, by organising campaigns. Though where does crusading stop and influence starts?

In some ways these campaigns are good, allow the people to have their say but when the paper wants to put an agenda on a people it can seem difficult for some people. Local papers have been a start for some of our best journalists, but like anything there's the good and the bad. The good writers rise and the bad ones fall, the careful line which is tread by them is something which the national press has fallen off by a few bad apples. Though, do we know the local press is still balanced on that line or are they are close to falling off themselves.

Leveson may have an effect on the national press, but with anything, the repercussions will surely felt in the local press too. From what has happened, we have seen the News of the World closed down because of what has happened and generally local newspapers are struggling to keep afloat as the smaller ones either go weekly or drop by the wayside. Its interesting to see what direction it all goes in, but once thing will be sure that the local press maybe never be the same again.

I have put this out there to highlight my case of what has happened, it is up to you to decide what you think about The Leveson Report's finding. This maybe a tiny part of what happens when you are a writer, but certainly I think it is a key part.


  1. Here via a Twitter link... and the situation at The News is probably aggravated by the limited freedom journalists there have to edit the templates, which are fixed centrally by Johnston Press. When someone with permissions has a day off, all hell can break loose. This is no excuse for the failure to apologise to you, though.

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