The BBC has been accused of “dancing on the grave” of local newspapers after covering the state of the industry in a news report.
Friday’s night’s main bulletins saw media correspondent Nick Higham reporting from Peterborough as its local paper, the Evening Telegraph, printed its last daily edition before going weekly this week.
Nick’s piece included comments from Telegraph owner Johnston Press’s chief executive Ashley Highfield and can be viewed here.
But the piece has sparked a lively debate on Twitter in which current and former regional editors questioned the corporation’s motives in covering the issue.
The exchange was started by media training consultant and former Northern Echo editor Peter Sands who Tweeted: “Is BBC always happy to ‘dance on grave’ of newspapers?”
Peter’s question brought a swift and pithy retort from Mike Sassi, editor of The Sentinel, who wrote: “Yep, it is. And were talking ‘Pogo’ not ‘Line.”
Others who weighed in included Paul Robertson, former editor of Newcastle’s Evening Chronicle, who said: “If local newspapers died it would cause problems for local BBC as that’s where they get most of their stories from.”
And John Elworthy of the Cambs Times added: “What fascinated me about @BBCNews report is not how many but how few local papers have been lost in recent years.”
However some of those taking part in the online debate welcomed the coverage of the issue.
Jon Welch, a former local newspaper reporter now working at BBC Look East said: “Didn’t see any grave dancing there, Peter. And as an ex-newspaper hack I’m pleased someone’s covering the story.”
Former Cornwall and Devon Media editor Andy Cooper tweeted: “BBC effect overstated. Greater threat is corporations still expecting margins akin to 1980s ‘rivers of gold’ levels. Discuss.”
And John Meehan, who stepped down as editor of the Hull Daily Mail last year, said that having watched the report he did not find it “unduly negative.”