Are local newspapers really wimping out on council coverage? Sarah Hartley would like you to help her investigate council coverage in local newspapers:
“After responses to the debate about council “newspapers” prompted so many comments … about local papers dumbing down and failing to cover civic issues at the expense of celebrity trivia, I suggested on this blog carrying out some sort of a survey to see whether that was truly the case.
“This alleged withdrawal of bread-and-butter reporting hasn’t been my experience of working on regional papers in northern England and Scotland, but, maybe times have changed or other regions have different stories to tell?”
Sarah’s investigation began on her blog with the Darlington & Stockton Times (of 7 eligible pages, the equivalent of 2 are concerned with local council stories) before I suggested she use Help Me Investigate to crowdsource the research.
If you’d like to help and need an invite contact Sarah, leave a comment here, or request an invite on Help Me Investigate itself.
I wrote my dissertation on this a couple of years ago and found some widely varying practices. So for instance in Camden, which has two local papers including one independent one, levels of coverage were high.
In Kensington and Chelsea, however, there is virtually no local news; the Kensington Informer was merged with other titles and now covers the entirety of more than three boroughs – too many to cover in any meaningful way.
Happy to share my findings and data if that’s in any way helpful.