An online debate has opened up on the Bucks Free Press website after the editor posted a holding story to say that an editorial team was on standby in Marlow where floods were expected to hit.
A reporter and photographer were on duty overnight based at a top hotel in the town, to make sure they were there if the story broke between 2am and 5am, when waters were predicted to be at their height.
But thanks to the online feedback section, readers began their own debate on whether they should be there at all – and if the BFP should cover events that were being featured on television news channels 24/7.
Editor Steve Cohen said: “We wanted to be there. If the predictions had proved accurate it would have been a major event in the town’s history. Just because we are a local newspaper doesn’t mean we don’t wish to cover events properly.
“Happily, it did not happen. We do not want the town to be wrecked b flooding but if it is, we want to see how people are affected by that.”
He added that the paper’s coverage in pictures of the 1947 floods were now the main historical document from that time.
Steve also said that it was typical of the online community built around the Bucks Free Press website that led to such a debate even taking place.
“I put the story on the site to tell readers we were likely to be updating the site. We have found a huge interest in the website and we have been surprised by the online community here, so we give them a running service whenever we can,” he said.
“It would be a dereliction of duty not to do this – it’s soemthing that will become routine.”
Comments posted on the back of the three-par website entry included: “The national media is already covering this 24/7 and no doubt better than some local rag can manage so why not get back to covering stories on bins and traffic lights than pretending to be The Daily Mail or Sky News?”
“The BFP editorial team are praying for these floods. Now, wishing for an act of god to strike down your fellow citizens is certainly not Christian, we know that.”
“People rely on local news reporting to see how it affects them. The likes of Sky and BBC news are not visiting threatened areas like Bourne End and Marlow.”
“BBC will never give us as accurate information as local reporters can. I’m abroad right now, but very interested in what’s happening at home. BFP – please just present the facts and tell/show us what is happening, without any hype.”
“Well done to the BFP for putting a reporter in the midst of the action so we can get updates of what is happening. It’s in situations like these the local news organisations come into their own.”