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TV drama wins praise for depiction of local newspaper life

A TV drama’s depiction of local newspaper life has won praise from regional press journalists and bloggers.

Monday night’s episode of ITV’s Broadchurch saw the fictional local paper’s editor faced with a fight against office and staffing cuts.

Broadchurch Echo editor Maggie Radcliffe, played by actress Carolyn Pickles, revealed she had been left to run the paper on her own after her only reporter had quit for a new job, while also being told she would have to relocate to a regional headquarters because her office in the fictional Dorset town was set to be closed.

Maggie, pictured below, also had her front page story about planning permission being granted for new homes replaced by her superior, who had instead opted for a splash about the rescue of some kittens.

Maggie Radcliffe

The show’s depiction of local journalism won praise from former Bath Chronicle deputy editor Paul Wiltshire, who wrote about it on his personal blog.

Paul, now a lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire, wrote: “If there are real deputies left to lead newsrooms and champion the needs of their towns and cities, there may be an argument to be made for sacrificing the salaries of big earners rather than the troops on the ground.

“But newsrooms without supportive, energetic, eyeball-to-eyeball leadership will serve up anaemic, one-size-fits-all, hollowed-out products that avoid the risk-taking and occasional unpopularity that are the hallmarks of the very best journalism.”

“It looks to me as if Maggie Radcliffe will join the long line of real editors who quit rather than go along with cutbacks that cross a line of conscience. But if she puts up a fight, there’ll be plenty of us cheering from the sofa sidelines.”

Speaking to HTFP, Paul added: “It was refreshing to see the sub-plot in Broadchurch. The cat splash felt a bit of a tired cliché – why do we always reach for cats as shorthand for internet dumbing-down?

“But the watering-down of the power of editors and the challenge of making the important interesting online are real, live issues.”

The scene also generated reaction on social media.

On Twitter Nick Rennie, who has worked for regional papers including the Colchester Gazette and Leicester Mercurywrote: “Impressive monologue from the editor of the Broadchurch Echo on the importance of local news in a local newspaper.”

While South Wales Evening Post crime reporter Jason Evans posted: “I’m with the editor – the major planning story should have been the splash; cute kittens on the inside.

“There are local journalists around the country right now nodding their heads and staring forlornly into their cups of tea.”


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  • March 8, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Excellent sub-plot until the front page was changed by the publisher (MD?) after it was completed. That simply wouldn’t have happened.

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  • March 8, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Refreshing to see a TV depiction of a local journalist who isn’t a one-dimensional villain based on a morally barren tabloid hack stereotype.

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  • March 9, 2017 at 9:44 am

    A very realistic depiction of a newspaper editor’s lot in these difficult times. Totally credible.
    What struck me was the total lack of respect shown to the editor by her smiirking “superior”. – a young woman who broke the office closure news while taking mouthfuls of her bowl of pasta lunch.
    She really seemed to revel in breaking the news, twisting the knife at every opportunity. Clearly she saw the editor as a dinosaur no longer fit for purpose.

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  • March 9, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Spot on.
    That would have raised a smile throughout the industry…particularly in the warehouse of made-redundant editors and sub-editors who gave their lives to the papers they served.
    How local newspapers are being destroyed by people at the top who know absolutely nothing about our industry.

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  • March 9, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Archantlifer – twisting the knife as she twisted the fork

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  • March 9, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Newsquest shut it’s Dorset Echo/Bridport News office in Bridport last year (where Broadchurch was filmed, er, last year) and dispatched staff to work out of Weymouth, 17 miles away. What an amazing coincidence!
    And Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall lives in Bridport.
    Good on yer Chris!

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