A regional daily editor has accused his local police force of giving “preferential treatment” to the BBC when advising residents about snow updates.
Ian Murray, editor-in-chief at the Southern Daily Echo, complained to Hampshire Constabulary after the force issued a statement giving advice on how people should cope with traffic conditions caused by the recent adverse weather.
The advice said members of the public should follow BBC Radio Solent for updates and broadcasts about the snow, without mentioning the coverage provided by local newspapers.
But the force said that in directing people to the BBC, it is following national protocol for such emergency situations.
In the letter to deputy chief constable Andy Marsh, Ian highlighted that the Echo’s coverage had attracted well over three-quarters of a million visits when the snow fell last Friday.
He told HTFP: “My point is that such preferential treatment for one medium is grossly unbalanced and ignores that fact thousands of people use the websites of local newspapers for such information, including the Southern Daily Echo which saw more than 750,000 hits on the day of the snow.
“It is time Hampshire Police – and I believe other public bodies – woke up to the fact the BBC is not the be all and end all and the regional press have extremely good and well-used websites as well as Twitter and other social media methods of talking to their communities.”
In the letter, Ian wrote: “The advisory note urged members of the public to follow Radio Solent, the BBC local radio station, for updates and broadcasts.
“I am sure you will agree with me that although well intentioned, this was open support for just one medium in the region.
“Surely a better way of approaching this would have been to advise members of the public to tune in to local radio stations and also visit the websites of radio stations and local newspapers.”
He added that the paper’s Twitter and Facebook entries about the snow were followed by tens of thousands of members of the public.
A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said: “We refer to the BBC as part of a long standing agreement for activation of emergency procedures, with 22 partner agencies across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight which form the Local Resilience Forum.
“It is called ‘BBC Connecting In A Crisis’, a long established national protocol for warning and informing during times of crisis or emergency situations such as adverse weather.
“The activation of the Adverse Weather Office to manage the multi-agency response to the snow conditions is part of that emergency procedure. We have operated this way for many years.”