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.