Biting the hand that feeds and all that, but deary, deary me – if what I have just endured for the past fifteen minutes constitutes the cutting edge of local journalism, then blimey – we may as well be reporting Cat Stuck Up South London Tree rather than genuine local issues.
I sent out a press release to various local media, hoping to raise some support for the Stockwell Stories oral history project. Two weeks later (must have been a busy month for Cats Stuck Up Tree stories) and yer man from the unnamed local newspaper organisation got round to putting a call in.
Fifteen minutes of reading out the press release once again, repeating answers and suggesting questions that he might like to ask – it’s all left me extremely confused. There’s probably even a Stockwell Stories recording in itself to be made out of the Q & A farce.
We didn’t get off to a good start with the journo’s first question of:
“Where is the borough of Stockwell?”
Um… Yer man from the local media works for a newspaper that has Lambeth as it’s flagship borough. It’s not giving too much away either to state that yer man was sitting in an office in St Reatham, overlooking the Rotten Borough.
“Why would you want to talk to local people?”
This was his second question, and not a statement lifted from the local journo handbook.
Oh, you know – I thought that in order to get a sense of the area and what is going on, it might be useful to actually go out there and try and find some stories.
“Can you play me one of the recordings, please?”
Well… if you go to the blog url that I included in the press release (something that you have obviously failed to do before putting the call in,) then you can listen to the entire archive we have published to date.
“What is a blog?”
If my dear old Gran came out with such a question, then I would helpfully explain. For a person who is employed in a profession that is supposedly involved in the collection, analysis and then distribution of news content, then this equates to professional suicide.
Um, it’s an online publishing platform that will probably put you out of a job within twelve months, unless you and your BIG media news organisation actually get a coherent online strategy in place.
“Can you give me the contact details of one of the people you have interviewed?”
Ah, that’s getting slightly better. Yep, I can see you want to get your hands dirty, but you should know by now that you never give away your sources. Plus the whole point of the recordings is for the lovely local people to put across their stories via the blog.
“What’s a blog again?”
“Why would you want to use the internet for this project, rather than publish a book.”
Because in less than the time it has taken you to transcribe, sub-edit, publish and distribute your hack of a finished piece of copy, I have already blogged about how painful and tiresome the whole process was.
Time to move on…
I’m sorry to diss Mr local journo, and I really am grateful for any support on this project. But if that’s how BIG media play the game, then it’s no surprise that you’re spunking away £500k per year.