He said that although there were “pockets” of brilliant work being done in the industry, some media outlets had become “too cosy” with local institutions.
Mike wrote that in post-conflict Northern Ireland, journalists “have an important job in holding authority to account, tackling vested interests and speaking up for the man and woman in the street”.
He went on: “But in leafy Sussex is this really quite so important? Aren’t we doing pretty well and is there really that much to question, to uncover, to campaign for?
“My answer is an emphatic yes. Since returning to England after almost 10 years in Scotland and Belfast I have to say I have found much local journalism in regions every bit as important, economically and culturally, to be in a pretty poor state.
“The industry is going through huge transformation at present but I’m not really talking about these seismic changes, I’m talking about a state of mind.
He went on: “There is much that seems supine about some journalism at present. Of course this is a generalisation, for there are pockets where brilliant work is still being done.
“But somewhere along the way some of us seem to have forgotten what our primary role is. That is to obtain information and pass it on to you our readers, to tell you things you didn’t know. News is often something that someone else didn’t want you to read. Do we still have this as our mantra?”
“It is not healthy for any journalist to have too cosy a relationship with the leaders in our community, its institutions, the movers and shakers if you like.
“Respectful yes. Give credit of course. But simply become a vehicle for unchallenged views as some media outlets seem to be today?
Mike added: “Journalists are outsiders. The safeguards that govern democracy demands it be thus. Show me an editor who wines and dines regularly with the powerful, or with whom they are on constant speed dial and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t really understand the job.
“Journalists, post Leveson Inquiry, are not exactly clutched to the nation’s bosom at present. But their role in society is worthy of debate.
“Forgive me for sounding pompous about my own trade but if journalism is to survive the communications revolution we are all living through it must be clear-eyed about its purpose.
“If it is not it will have no right to thrive and at local level, where we all live after all, the democratic deficit will be real.”