One of the questions most frequently levelled at me as a journalist and newspaper editor is ‘Why do we always focus on bad news?’
Of course that is not always the case with local newspapers in particular aiming to showcase on the positives within the community. But the simple answer is that ‘bad’ i.e. dramatic, tragic, and shocking human news does make headlines and is the most clicked on and shared online – and at the end of the day we are a business acting on customer demand.
It is not that simple of course, but in a nutshell we are a nation of voyeurs – we like to see , share, sympathise and be shocked by the experience and ordeals of other people as well as know what is going on in our local community.
Most news stories are judged for prominence on a simple test – what would you discuss first with your friends in a pub?
You only need to switch on the television to see drama series and reality shows focusing on the bad, the weird, the disgusting, the rich, the poor, death and crime. To obtain viewers soap operas have been forced to focus on murder, rape, explosions... as well as the well worn idiosyncracies and humour of everyday local life.
As local media, we are not here to dramatise, but have a responsibility to share information in as accurate and timely a fashion as possible as well as getting involved in the battles, debates and campaigns that mean something for people in the area. Yes – those which will dominate debate in the local bars and cafes.
We report the news from a unique and privileged position within the community that we are not just physically based in, but a part of.
As a result we battle to report an interesting mix of the good, the bad and the shocking, while showcasing the achievements and successes of local people.
We go deeper and talk to more people locally than any regional or national media ever will. Our choice of front pages prompts debate in itself, but we aim for new and impactful but, most predominantly, local human stories.