8 January 2009
While casually and half-botheredly reading the story of Katie "Jordan" Price's speeding case on the BBC website, I noticed that versions of the story according to other sources were available as links on the side of the page.
These sources did not take you to other broadcast media, such as Sky or ITV. Major news agencies, such as Reuters, were markedly absent. The odd national paper - in this case, the Sun and the Daily Telegraph - were listed. However, also thereon was the Dudley News, Worthing Today and - rather brilliantly - the Cardigan and Tivyside Advertiser.
Why? Just, really, why? These local newspapers, be they daily or weekly, priced or free, won't have had their own reporters at Brighton Magistrates Court while Price (who wasn't there) had her charges dismissed due to legal technicalities. Imagine trying to justify the expenses for that if you work for the Cardigan and Tivyside Advertiser! They would have scanned the copy sent through the system by the Press Association and whacked it on page five, or whichever page they use for national and international headlines.
So in other words, the BBC may as well just link to PA if they want an "alternative" copy of the story. Indeed, the BBC's own copy may well have come from PA, or the local news agency in Sussex (which would have sent the story to PA as well as the nationals), so it becomes a largely pointless exercise. It's good for the papers selected - I've never seen the Dewsbury Reporter get as much oxygen as from the BBC website - but it serves no purpose to the reader of the story.
Of course, they are doing this with a good proportion of their news stories to prove that they are reaching out to the whole country; that the UK as an entity is at the forefront of their minds, so mentioning local newspapers, no matter how meaninglessly, gives a more localised feel to a national story which in this case, ultimately, is of little interest to a giant share of the nation other than to those who are bothered by celebrity.
By linking to newspapers in the Midlands, Sussex and west Wales, they claim to have shown their provincial colours. Maybe adding more stories which originated in these areas in the first place would serve this purpose more adequately.