AddThis SmartLayers

Journalism trainer warns editors against ‘dismissing’ readers over fuel crisis

Paul FosterA journalism trainer has warned editors not to “dismiss” the result of a poll which found most British people blame the media for the current fuel crisis.

University of Portsmouth lecturer Paul Foster has advised journalists against simply “ignoring people’s views” after a YouGov survey found 47pc blamed the media, compared with 23 pc who blamed the government and 22pc lay the fault at the public’s door.

HTFP reported on Tuesday how regional editors and other senior industry figures had publicly launched defences of the industry’s coverage of the crisis after a number of local journalists reported being abused over the issue.

But Paul, a former community editor at Portsmouth daily the News, has questioned whether such defences “serve any use or just make matters worse” and has called for an industry debate on the matter.

Posting on Twitter in response to the poll’s results, he wrote: “Clearly the media isn’t to blame for the fuel shortage but editors shouldn’t dismiss this out of hand.

“They should consider: why do people think like this? What can we do to help repair that relationship? I don’t think the answer is to simply ignore people’s views.”

Paul, pictured, told HTFP he believed the findings should give industry figures “some food for thought”.

He said: “First of all, it’s hard to make sweeping judgments based on the result of one survey. I think it’s important we understand who the respondents believe ‘the media’ to be.

“The general public, generally, have a limited understanding of journalistic practice and social media tends to blur the boundaries between what is news and personal comment.

“But this survey should give editors and news organisations some food for thought, particularly when it comes to reflecting on their own practices and how they build a relationship with their audience.”

Editors who spoke out against criticism of journalists and the media over the weekend and into this week include the Somerset County Gazette’s Paul Jones, and John Wilson, of the Hereford Times.

Lancs Live’s Luke Beardsworth also hit out at those who had abused local reporters in recent days, but said there was “a sensible discussion to be had around how to cover responsibly”.

Added Paul: “Journalists are quick to defend their news brand and the industry as a whole, which is a natural reaction. That’s exactly what I did as a reporter and news editor.

“But I believe there needs to be a wider conversation as to whether these defensive actions serve any use or just make matters worse.

“Doubling down and shouting ‘you’re wrong’, doesn’t help news teams build a relationship with their communities.

“Trust is key for any brand, particularly news, and it’s how we as an industry approach that which needs greater consideration.”