26 January 2015

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BBC apologises over newspaper ‘closure’ blunder

A BBC local radio station in the West Midlands has apologised after wrongly reporting that a leading regional daily was closing down.

Listeners to BBC Radio Stoke woke up to the ‘news’ that Staffordshire daily The Sentinel was quitting its Stoke-on-Trent HQ, with other local broadcast media quickly following up the ‘story.’

But as previously reported on HTFP, while the print works at the Etruria site is due to close shortly, the newspaper is staying put.

Sentinel editor Mike Sassi set the record straight in a leader column this morning headlined:  “Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.”

He wrote:  “Yesterday The Sentinel woke up to bizarre – and hugely inaccurate – local radio and TV reports that it was packing its bags and moving out of Stoke-on-Trent.

“This strange story suggested the closure of the Daily Mail’s printing press in Etruria meant your favourite local newspaper would be leaving town. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“As you all know, The Sentinel has been North Staffordshire’s most trusted publisher of local news and information for more than 150 years. And we can confirm, that situation won’t be changing any time soon.

“We certainly can’t see a day when The Sentinel will ever leave Stoke-on-Trent. Other newspapers and websites (and radio and TV stations?) may come and go. But your Sentinel – and its thisisstaffordshire website – will always be here.”

Mike’s editorial suggested that the confusion may have been exacerbated by Wednesday’s announcement of the sale of The Sentinel’s parent company Northcliffe Media to the new Local World consortium.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We are sorry a report that went out on BBC Radio Stoke yesterday could have been interpreted in such a way to suggest Stoke’s Sentinel newspaper was closing down.

“As soon as this was highlighted by the newspaper, the story was re-written. The Sentinel’s editor was offered airtime to clarify the story, which he declined.”

Harmsworth Printing, a sister company of Northcliffe Media, is nearing the end of a formal 30-day consultation over the future of the Stoke printing plant, with up to 90 jobs under threat.

As well as The Sentinel, the print plant in Media Way, Etruria, had been responsible for printing Northern editions of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.


  1. David Scott, Torquay

    Yet more sloppy reporting from the BBC. Aren’t these people trained to check the facts with the people they are writing about? Apparently not!

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  2. Suedehead

    For years the holier-than-thou BBC has gleefully pointed out mistakes in newspapers in the manner of a tell-tale schoolgirl.

    Now the boot’s on the other foot. And the Beeb is finding just how uncomfortable and how unfair it can be for its failings to be writ large.

    We’ve got to end this media-on-media fight as it’s doing none of us any good.

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  3. Scoop

    Just a few years ahead of itself, is all

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  4. Grey

    They obviously got it wrong because they didn’t lift it from the Sentinel like most of their other stories.

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  5. grey haired hack

    Clearly, BBC news reporting is sloppy at all levels of the organisation. Another example of where a quick phone call could have saved a lot of embarrassment for Auntie.

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  6. chris

    There are quite a few Beeb staff who actively seek damaging stories as payback for the press ‘victimising’ them over Savile etc. It’s the press’ responsibility, as conduit for the public, to keep the BBC honest as should do for all publically-funded bodies. To make it tit-for-tat shows them up as cosseted and a bit silly. Quite embarrassing really

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  7. hacker, hereabouts

    At our regional daily in the north we would often joke about the paper leaving the presses 11.20am to be reported on the 12noon local BBC station sometimes word-for-word. It sometimes felt we were working for Auntie.

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  8. Tog

    This is what happens when local BBC journalists have to look for their own stories!

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  9. Peter Jeffery, london

    Finding your own stories is an art form, or you can also do it the lazy way and let someone else do the legwork.

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  10. Traffic Chaos

    Regional newspapers may be choking to death but many a beleaguered hack still experiences the frustration of having the first three pars of their story read out without any credit by the nearest BBC radio station.

    A favourite trick these days is to cut out and keep a story and then roll it out as brand new with a shoehorned ‘today’ angle when it is about to be discussed at a meeting.

    Despite all of this, the BBC appears to look upon its ailing, wheezing, elderly neighbours with green-eyed contempt. They seize upon any semblance of a printed error with great gusto and a sycophantic ‘we’re happy to set the record straight after recent reports..’ tone.

    And look at how they’ve ‘apologised’ for this. Utterly unacceptable.

    If The Sentinel had splashed with a story claiming BBC Radio Stoke was to be shut down, which is the equivalent offence, I wonder what would have happened?

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