A regional journalist has accused national journalists of “patronising” her patch in a tongue-in-cheek column about the annual pilgrimage of “hipster reporters”.
Western Morning News senior reporter Lyn Barton has hit out at the “depressing regularity” of journalists descending on Cornwall each summer to file annual “County of Contrasts”-style pieces.
In a piece for the WMN’s sister Cornwall Live website, Lyn pointed to the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail as “enthusiastically reheating” claims about TV chef Rick Stein’s supposed row with locals in the Cornish towns of Padstow and Porthleven.
She also described The Guardian as running an annual ‘Cornwall has got loads of, like, really poor people, you know’ story.
Wrote Lyn: “It’s that time of year when a bunch of hipster reporters from the national newspapers come to Cornwall and realise that gosh! not everyone lives in the John Lewis appointed luxury like their own rented seaside cottage.
“‘Wow,’ they think with depressing regularity, there’s a County of Contrasts story to be had here. And so begins the regular dissection of life on the far side of the Tamar as seen through the lens of the M25.
“The articles are usually laced with shocked little observations about how expensive the houses are but, you know, the wages are really low so how can people afford to live by the sea?
“There’s usually some social realism thrown in with a few deprivation stats to show that a mere ‘stone’s thrown from the golden beaches beloved of millions of tourists’ are some of the poorest communities in the UK.”
Lyn added there was an “all too regular and cliché ridden depiction of Cornwall which is rolled out each year, oddly enough around holiday season”.
She continued: “Now then, no-one is saying that Cornwall doesn’t have social problems and those of us who live here are deeply aware of the pockets of real deprivation that sit cheek by jowl with some of the most expensive homes in four counties.
We do know that according to the according to The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015, the official measure of poverty, 17 of Cornwall’s neighbourhoods are in the most deprived in the country. No-one is trying to escape that fact or bury it in the sand.
“But while the national newspapers fret over how to frame their annual County of Contrasts story – usually I suspect after some senior editor has come down for a quick off season break – they’re not really telling us anything we don’t already know. Just once, however, I do wish they would find a different and less patronising way of saying it.”