A matter of trust - that's why local media matters
PUBLISHED: 08:02 16 November 2017
Opinion: David Clayton hails the reversal of BBC cuts to local radio - because being local really does matter.
Thank you for reading this. I agree, the gratitude is better placed at the end of this article but thank you now, nevertheless. This may be “stating the b***** obvious” as Basil Fawlty so eloquently put it, but these words are written here, in the immediate area you live, by someone who lives here too. The rest of this EDP has been put together with the creativity and passion of a talented team of local people. They, like you, have a stake in this community.
The world I’ve inhabited, that of local broadcasting and BBC Radio Norfolk in particular, has just been given a huge endorsement by the BBC’s Director General. In a speech to mark the 50th birthday of BBC Local Radio, Tony Hall’s reversed some hefty savings and is talking of more investment to boost how the BBC interacts with and serves local communities. You might guess that I punched the air when I heard this not only because it meant a branch of the media I cherish has had a welcome fillip, but because I absolutely agree with the ‘DG’ that LOCAL really matters.
It matters because it seems to me as the world has shrunk, our direct connection with it has grown astonishingly. I am amazed that I can have a conversation, via a smartphone, with my mate who has moved away to Perth in Australia. Just like when we’d sit in the pub together in Norfolk I can hear him and see him in colour. How did that happen in my lifetime! I can flick onto a webcam in the Yorkshire Dales and see what the weather’s doing, when it’s doing it. I can consume a Tweet immediately the American President chooses to share his “wisdom” with the world. My point is, technology has widened our horizon and what’s international can at best distract us and at worst overwhelm us. But we live, move around and spend our money “here.” So what makes “here” work, and what we understand about “here” is the primary purpose of these EDP pages, as it is on our local airwaves. I for one say, thank goodness for that.
These days I’m invited to talk to all sorts of groups and meetings, which is lovely. Meandering, as I do, through tales of radio, TV and the media in general, I tend to ask who listens to and reads what. I’m regularly puzzled as to those folk who don’t feel the need to consume any local media. How do they know what’s going on round here? More to the point how do they know what they think about it? Of course, it’s not a crime and I may be fretting unnecessarily about their well-being.
One of the tales I tell is of when I was on the radio one Sunday morning on BBC Radio Norfolk imparting emergency updates about imminent coastal flooding. The lower part of Gorleston was threatened with going under a few feet of water. I was trying to balance reassurance with urgency over the course of a few hours. The story came back to me afterwards that a policeman had knocked on the door of an elderly lady, warning her she might have to leave her home. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ve got David Clayton on the radio when he tells me to leave, I will!” I tell you that not because I was doing anything extraordinary but because there was and still is a deep-seated and well-earned trust in our local media, in all its forms.
As we peer through the fog of social media looking for a considered opinion of what’s really going on, never before has local journalism been more important. That’s why you bought this EDP and care about what’s in it because you live here. That’s why I started by thanking you.