AddThis SmartLayers

BBC criticised over failure to include regional titles in press review

The BBC has been criticised for failing to regularly include regional newspapers in its morning press review.

Former journalist and SNP House of Commons leader Angus Robertson has hit out at BBC Radio 4 for not including non-London newspapers on a regular basis in the Today programme’s press review, claiming it is “unrepresentative of media plurality across the nations and regions of the UK”.

Before moving into politics, Angus worked as a journalist on Austrian public radio, where preparing and presenting its press review was among his duties.

In his regular column for pro-Scottish independence daily The National, pictured, on Saturday, he noted how his review had included news sources from across Europe, adding that Deutschlandfunk, Germany’s BBC equivalent, featured regional titles from across the country when he used to listen to its daily review.

Angus Robertson column

Wrote Angus: “Compare and contrast that with the UK’s flagship radio news equivalent: BBC Radio 4 and its morning press review, which usually appears in two stages during the Today programme, roughly at 6.40am and 7.40am.

“I listened closely throughout this week and was struck by the total imbalance, so much so that I listened again on the iPlayer to double check and get the statistics right.

“By my reckoning there were just more than 60 newspapers or news website mentions in the press review between Monday and Friday. Guess how many were from non-London newspapers? There were none. Zero. Zilch.”

Added Angus: “How about [mentions of] the English regional press? Nothing at all. Not one.

Angus went on to discuss what he considered the big non-London stories of the week, including the Scottish Parliament passing legislation to make a new independence referendum easier, Northern Ireland’s European election results and an announcement that hundreds of jobs set to be lost at Ford’s plant in Bridgend.

He mentioned The National, The Herald, The Scotsman, Dundee Courier, Aberdeen’s Press & Journal, the Belfast Telegraph, Belfast News Letter, Irish News and Western Mail as titles which had not been mentioned in the press review.

“This week the BBC Radio 4 press review on the Today programme managed to include the Washington Post and New York Times, but not one single report from a non-London based UK newspaper,” he wrote.

“It might be unrepresentative of media plurality across the nations and regions of the UK, but it its not unrepresentative of the BBC press review format. It sadly tells you much about the London-centric BBC editorial perspective.”

In response, a BBC spokesman told HTFP: “The news reviews focus on the biggest news stories of the day and feature newspapers with UK wide circulation and increasingly the websites which are most read by people across the UK too.

“When judged on a longer period than a week it’s clear the reviews include different papers and outlets, such as when there are major news stories and events in different parts of the UK, as an example.”


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • June 3, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    All the more ironic due to the fact most local journos would wipe the floor with their BBC contemporaries.

    Local journos (or at least they used to) have contacts, develop sources, are close to the ground and pick up stories that way.

    The first thing BBC producers do in the morning is go through papers looking for stories. Most of those stories in the national press have come from either the regional press, or news wires. Spoon fed.

    I’ve been to a few open days for BBC journos and done quite a bit of experience there, it was basically a call centre with more kale.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(19)
  • June 3, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    never quite understood why all news channels review the papers. What’s the point, except to show all the stories the tv boys and girls miss.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(6)
  • June 4, 2019 at 8:07 am

    The irony of Robertson sticking up for regional press in, of all papers, the National, should be lost on nobody.

    It’s a Pravda-esque comic with an avowed anti-BBC agenda which is run so thinly by Newsquest that the former NUJ organiser for Scotland had to beg reporters on rival papers to write for it freelance so it could continue publishing.

    There’s definitely an argument for greater diversity of titles on Today, but Robertson is presumably aware that all the main regional titles – from the P&J to the Greenock Tel and beyond – feature in Radio Scotland’s paper review, as do the regional titles in Wales and NI on their networks, and that 5 Live regularly features the best stories from the regional press every day.

    Or does Angus’ approach to media plurality extend to just listening to one radio show per day and assuming that represents the entire industry?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(5)
  • June 4, 2019 at 8:54 am

    The working practices you’re describing @Jeff Jones as no different to how most regionals operate these days: reporters first and ongoing job throughout the day is to scan Facebook and social media sites for stories operating in what have become little more than editorial call centres.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(24)
  • June 4, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    “ Local journos (or at least they used to) have contacts, develop sources, are close to the ground and pick up stories that way.“

    Those were the days

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(16)
  • June 4, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Surprise! It didn’t take long for this to be about everything wrong with local newsrooms. It’s abundantly clear you don’t work in one. But I’m sure it was much better when you did.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(4)
  • June 5, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    sorry. regional papers just don’t have the importance they used to have. Compared with peak sales, hardly anyone reads them nowadays. They are small fry. ( some have lost 80 per cent or more of peak sales). No wonder Beeb gives them a miss.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(2)