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Fire the columnists, not the reporters – Marr

Andrew Marr last night issued an emotional plea to newspaper bosses to spare frontline reporters from the current round of job cutbacks facing the industry.

Speaking at the annual dinner of the Society of Editors Conference in Bristol, the former BBC political editor said reporting was the lifeblood of “our trade.”

“Fire the columnists, fire whoever you like, but don’t fire the frontline reporters. Our trade is about reporters finding things out and passing on information,” he said.

Andrew also backed Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s call for some local newspapers to receive state subsidies to enable them to carry on providing a local news service.

“All I will say is that public service journalism is very much rooted in local newspaper journalism,” he said.

“If that requires support and subsidy I can’t think of a better cause than helping keep our communities together.”

Andrew handed out the new “Rat up a Drainpipe” award for journalism that has rocked the boat, established in memory of his former lobby colleague Tony Bevins.

The prize went to Deborah Haynes, of The Times, who exposed the plight of Iraqis working as interpreters in the war zone in Basra.

Deborah returned from Iraq especially to receive the cast-bronze award described by Andrew as the heaviest in British journalism.

“Although policy has changed and those interpreters are being helped it is still woefully insufficient and there are still stories to be told,” she said.

Andrew said there had been some “wonderful” entries for the prize adding: “Some of the most extraordinary entries came from local newspapers.”

Without naming the paper involved he cited one story about groups of gypsies being treated as virtual “slave labour.”


Mr_Osato (11/11/2008 10:50:47)
No, keep the (better) columnists and the subs. Fire the videographers and, most of all, the penpushers, beancounters and managers. Then we’ll have a chance.

Jo Wadsworth (11/11/2008 12:43:17)
Marr’s namecheck of the the local newspaper could have got lost in translation – I think he may well have been referring to Basildon Echo Jon Austin’s amazing investigative report into how runaways, down-and-outs and drug addicts are blackmailed into “slavery” at travellers sites in Essex:

BOF (11/11/2008 12:55:49)
`Interpretors,’ shurely shome mishtake. Ed

richard meredith (11/11/2008 13:07:14)
Good for Andrew Marr, Alan Rusbridger and others for putting the case for local journalism to go back to its local roots. Funny how what’s goes around comes around. Look back in the library archives and that’s what you’ll find – local papers that were run by local families and full of local news. And now history is repeating itself. Why? – because we all want to feel ‘a sense of belonging’. The focal points of our communities are disappearing; the church has no congregation, the pubs are closing, and the local newspaper – and its reporters – have been asked to become all things to all men in the pursuit of profit for far-away conglomerates. It’s time to go back to the knitting and learn another lesson from history.