In an outspoken series of Tweets as news of the attack spread yesterday, the former Croydon Advertiser chief reporter singled out titles in Coventry, Blackpool, Huddersfield and Burton-on-Trent for publishing live blogs as the story unfolded.
But local press digital chiefs including Trinity Mirror’s David Higgerson defended the coverage, pointing out that many local papers would have splashed on the attacks in the days of on-day print editions.
Shortly after the attack Gareth tweeted: “As ever it’s hard, among half-news & RTs of inappropriate photos, to find a responsible/reliable account of what has happened.”
He then added: “Not helped by the rush of every local paper also reporting/live-blogging on the basis of spurious/non-existent local angles.”
Gareth went on: “This, IMO, is arguably the worst thing about the prevailing culture within UK local (& national) media – professional ambulance chasing
“Papers across the country – Coventry, Burton, Blackpool, Huddersfield – live-blogging this incident. Why? Inform readers or milk tragedy?.”
David responded: “10 years ago on day newspapers would splash on national news.”
But Gareth hit back saying: “I’ll repeat, I’m not saying don’t cover, but it doesn’t require every local paper in the country to live blog.”
Sophie Flowers digital producer at Gloucestershire Live, also took issue with Gareth, saying: “Have to agree to disagree for once Gareth. Lots of local (not spurious) reaction in our live blog.”
Gareth responded: “With respect, and I’ve only read through once, I don’t think it adds anything meaningful to the coverage.”
However there was backing for Gareth from former Leicester Mercury feature writer Lee Marlow who tweeted: “Yeah, it’s almost if they care more for the clicks than they do the truth.”