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Spare a thought for local journalists says council boss

A district council leader has joined the ranks of people defending local and regional journalists in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.

In a blog on the council’s website entitled ‘Don’t be hacked off with all journalists’ Stafford Borough Council leader Mike Heenan pointed out that local journalists were “an essential part of the community.”

He wrote: “Before you tar all reporters with the same brush spare a thought for our local journalists.

“The local press has had a hard time of late. Like many businesses they have struggled in the economic climate. They also have to compete with the rise in online media.

“Yet they go about their work giving a voice to those who may not have any other channel to be heard and holding politicians and public organisations to account. And yes, I do disagree with what they write on occasions.

“They also have a very important community role – and our local press does that very well.”

He gave an example of a reporter from the Staffordshire Newsletter who spent the day with a parking warden to get a taste of the role. Mr Heenan felt that it would have been very easy to have ducked such a job or to have written a sensationalist article.

“But it was a balanced article concentrating on fact and personal experience. A fair and accurate piece of journalism. he wrote.

“It is this which I suggest separates the journalists of our local media from those who get a story by hacking a phone.”

He also praised newspapers in the area  including the Stafford Post and Express and Star for articles which backed a campaign against dog fouling.