As reported on Wednesday, former Cornish Guardian journalist Graham Smith, left, has launched his own “proper news” website Cornwall Reports in opposition to Trinity Mirror’s Cornwall Live platform – which serves as the online arm for the Guardian, The Cornishman and the West Briton.
Graham says he is aiming his new venture at people “interested in what’s going on and not interested in who are the 50 sexiest people in Cornwall.”
But David Higgerson, digital publishing director for TM’s regional titles, has accused Graham of seeking to paint “a very inaccurate picture of the work done by fellow journalists” in explaining his reasoning for launching the site.
Writing on his personal blog, David responded: “It’s dead easy to pick one story you don’t like and pretend it’s the norm. Academics do it all the time. Smith has found a handful he doesn’t like and worked very hard to suggest that’s the norm, being written at the expense of all else.”
David shared a list of Cornwall Live’s most shared stories from the past few weeks, which features local crime, transport, health and weather stories as well as the “50 sexiest people in Cornwall” list.
He wrote: “There are council stories in there. Health stories in there. Issues, campaigns, human interest – but all prepared in a way which makes people want to read them online. Seeking to write stuff which is going to be read is not something journalists should sneer at, surely.
“The popular content – designed to engage, catch the eye and satisfy the reader – helps fund the content which takes longer to produce, but which can have just as much impact on the lives of readers as the stuff readers know they need.”
David added: “Local journalism faces a challenging time. Journalists hurling insults about the quality of work undertaken by their professional colleagues and seeking to undermine it to others in their communities seems to be an unnecessary pursuit when so make other things need solving and resolving.
“I hope Graham Smith’s new website works, and that a new journalism revenue model is proven. I’m sure it stands far more chance of success if it’s promoted on its strengths, rather than the inaccurate portrayal of what hard-working journalists at a rapidly-growing website down the road are up to.”
Graham commented: “There is much in David Higgerson’s blog that I agree with, particularly his recognition that readers have a real appetite for local news. I now look forward to seeing much more local news on Trinity Mirror websites.
“But David is misleading when he suggests that I am criticising my former colleagues. I am not. They are my friends and I suspect that I know them rather better than David does. That’s how I know why so many senior journalists have left the company, and why those who remain would also leave tomorrow if they could.”