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Local newspapers banned from Shoreham memorial service

A row has erupted on the eve of the memorial service for the victims of the Shoreham air disaster after local newspaper journalists were banned from the event.

Brighton daily The Argus has revealed that its reporters have been excluded from Sunday’s event despite pleas from families of the victims for the newspaper to be present.

The air crash during this summer’s Shoreham Air Show claimed the lives of 11 people after a plane smashed onto the A27.

Organisers of Sunday’s service  at Lancing College near the disaster scene have decided that coverage will be provided on a pooled basis by BBC Sussex and the Press Association.

Lancing College, where Sunday's service will be held.

Lancing College, where Sunday’s service will be held.

Chairman of the organising committee, MP Tim Loughton, and West Sussex County Council, which is responsible for media coverage of the event, said the decision was agreed by the families of the 11 men who died and represented their wishes.

However The Argus reported that some relatives who had contacted the newspaper about the service had been “surprised and saddened” to be told the newspaper was not allowed to attend.

One told the paper: “The community will miss out and nothing will be printed for future generations to read, and this most important moment will be gone forever.

“The Argus has reported everything up to now, with great thought and sensitivity, but will not be there for this very last important service.

“We owe it to the eleven men that died that day that they should be remembered in a caring and sensitive manner and with the respect they deserve.

“The Argus is a local newspaper, for the local community. They would have been proud to have been allowed to report it in a sensitive manner for the community.”

An appeal to the council and Mr Loughton asking them to reverse the decision also fell on deaf ears.

Kirsty Buchanan, a former regional and national press journalist who is now the council’s head of communications, told the paper a decision was made to allow only the BBC and the Press Association to attend.

She said: “We need to balance the needs of the media against the wishes of the families and other invited guests at the event and felt a pool would be the fairest way to achieve that.”

She added: “I understand you will find this decision frustrating but hope you will understand the reasons behind it.”

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, commented: “The Argus should be there. Reporting on this helps the community come together at a time of great tragedy.

“Surely they can find a space for a paper which does so much for the community and has been at the heart of this tragedy as it unfolded.”

However rival Johnston Press title the Worthing Herald says it “respects” the council’s decision to pool coverage.

In an editorial, it stated:  “The service need not be turned into a media circus, with every national and local reporter clamouring to get into the event. With every news organisation being given fair and equal access to the material, it is the most sensible solution.”

17 comments

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  • November 20, 2015 at 10:44 am
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    ““We need to balance the needs of the media against the wishes of the families and OTHER INVITED GUESTS at the event”. I reckon the phrase I’ve put in caps is the significant bit. Can’t have the great & the good being bothered by uncontrolled oiks from the local press, can we? The families’ wishes? Who cares?

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  • November 20, 2015 at 10:52 am
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    They haven’t really covered themselves in glory on this matter, one photographer having a bun fight with a TV cameraman, also be ejected from another for not asking to attend. You can understand some families not wanting it turning into a ‘ media circus ‘ or even being photographed having a tear at the service. The families decisions should override all others, it’s not as if the press didn’t get thier fill on and after the event with in some cashes horrific pictures.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 10:59 am
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    Johnston Press probably ‘respect’ this crazy decision as they haven’t got anyone to send.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 11:01 am
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    ‘Freelance Sub’ – take a look at your comment & sort out the errors will you?

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  • November 20, 2015 at 11:02 am
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    No matter how good the BBC and PA coverage may be the two organisations will not provide the nitty-gritty, local coverage that doubtless The Argus would. The BBC and PA will, basically, be following a national news agenda.
    I can totally understand the need for not wanting to turn the event into a media circus but a local newspaper should be represented at the service.
    The organising committee and Brighton council should think again. Maybe it is something for the leader of the council to consider/re-consider.
    Local authorities and the local media need each other. It is a matter of managing each situation, particularly one after a tragedy, which is very sensitive, fairly and sensibly.
    Note should be taken of what all the relatives are saying. If they were all against the media being present, that would be different, perhaps. Balance is the key, but council media officers/heads of communications in my experience rarely understand that – they become blinkered and forget the people they are there to serve, the public as well as the council.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 11:17 am
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    For anyone who hasn’t read the article, I suggest they go to the Argus and have a look – it’s deeply embarrassing.
    Talk about misjudging the tone…

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  • November 20, 2015 at 11:46 am
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    I thought the BBC was now an arm of the local press and working closely with them, their web sites certainly link to local newspapers in the respective areas

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  • November 20, 2015 at 11:49 am
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    What was this bun fight you talk of @Freelance Sub?

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  • November 20, 2015 at 11:50 am
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    Yeah, but hang on…the Argus have apparently got hold of at least one family member who wanted them to be there. So how can Ms Buchanan claim that the families don’t want them there? And frankly, Freelance Sub, are the BBC and PA going to be more sensitive to the families involved in this tragedy than their local paper? It does make me wonder if Glad hasn’t got the real reason absolutely spot on.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 12:02 pm
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    “However rival Johnston Press title the Worthing Herald says it “respects” the council’s decision to pool coverage.”

    Perhaps because if the Worthing Herald doesn’t have to send a reporter, they can be sitting in the office preparing a listicle on “20 ways to make your girlfriend swoon.”

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  • November 20, 2015 at 12:07 pm
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    I suspect A) JP say they respect the decision because they have nobody to send to the event anyway and B) that kind of surrendering attitude wouldn’t cut it anywhere outside the regional press so perhaps that’s exactly where their reporters should stay.

    For what it’s worth, The Argus did a fantastic job covering the air show disaster. it’s coverage will be looked back on in decades to come – but the memorial coverage will be missing.

    I also hear a mayor who is attending has been told to leave their civic robes and medallions at home. What a farce.

    Organisers of the event say they don’t want a media circus. Well their poor approach to this event has created just that. Well done.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm
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    Mike Out West’s comment about JP may be close to the truth. Their refusal to get involved smacks of a toadified, council-compliant policy brewed-up away from the patch (there’s only one “editor” for all the Sussex papers as far as I can tell, and he’s not in Worthing or Shoreham.)
    As for Tim Loughton MP, his career as a junior minister was cut short, possibly terminally, by several bad judgment calls. Enough said, or as Loughton would say, “end of”.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 1:37 pm
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    Good for them, why would you want a large group of photographer clicking away and reporters scribbling throughout. One photographer and one reporter is ideal. I’m a photographer and wouldn’t answer my own door if I knocked on it.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 3:54 pm
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    Why would the ‘selected pool’ NOT include the local paper? It makes no sense.

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  • November 20, 2015 at 9:49 pm
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    Hi all, I am relatively new on this site, have been working in local press abroad. I read, listen, watch and sometimes cannot understand…
    Why a newspaper has to be ‘allowed’ or ‘not allowed’ to any local event which is not private???
    How I see it, this service certainly is not a private thing:
    A) it is organised by council who are paid by tax-payers = local community, so should serve local community and not dictate them what is right and what is not right;
    B, more importantly) this sad event relates to a tragedy which touched many people from various places in the area, so how on earth could anybody even think of banning local press from attending???
    Where is my thinking incorrect?…

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  • November 21, 2015 at 11:37 pm
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    I disagree with ‘Luka’. I’ve read the original Argus story too. It is not in the least disrespectful to the situation or sensationalised. Relatives actually asked the committee for The Argus to be there and their requests were ignored. This an appalling way for a council and committee to behave at such a distressing time and thank goodness that newspaper still seems to have reporters and an editor who still has the guts to stand up and shout for what is right on behalf of others when they sense injustice – unlike that ridiculous comment piece from the Herald. If PA and BBC are going it makes absolutely no difference to have a reporter from a local there too. And mayors have been banned from wearing their robes too – it is just farcical! Perhaps Ms Buchanan’s background explains why she has little interest in the local press. Mind you I am not surprised about West Sussex County Council after hearing about that awful situation with the ribbons on the bridge.

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