Why good quality journalism will always survive the most testing of times

PUBLISHED: 06:40 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 06:40 09 July 2020

Reporter Jessica Frank-Keyes talking to Labour candidate Karen Davis at last year's general election count. Local media and its journalists are still a much-trusted news source, says Paul Thomas

Reporter Jessica Frank-Keyes talking to Labour candidate Karen Davis at last year's general election count. Local media and its journalists are still a much-trusted news source, says Paul Thomas

Danielle Booden

Freelance journalist Paul Thomas says newspapers like the EDP and channels like the BBC must be supported for the valuable local journalism they bring into our lives

Words of wisdom today are very different from the age in which the expression was created, many centuries ago. And in those days the words would have been uttered by the learned, some religious, some political, but even then some mere reporters and writers in early age newspapers.

Today, I suspect such words are relatively rare in everyday language. But I still believe in media – newspapers, radio, television – even some social media online – to give me, 
and you, words, information, even education that helps and shapes my and your futures.

So it is with regret that I read news in the EDP and on these Opinion pages of the BBC’s threatened job losses among regional journalism, Radio Norfolk included. Yet another casualty of the pandemic but traditional media has been increasingly threatened for some time now.

Media, as it is known today, is very varied, both in is types of delivery, standards and content, political thinking in some cases, entertainment, information – and yes, integrity.

A reducing number of people read newspapers today, threatening centuries of once first class news delivery – interpretation, exploration, exposure of good and bad
facts of what is happening globally, nationally – and here, locally.

Once upon a time Fleet Street in London was the hub of national news and a centre of fine journalism – being reporters, sub-editors, proof-readers, lawyers checking legality – and of course the editors, setting and checking the standards, style and creativity, but factual truth of newspapers.

Radio and TV also had a spread of journalists and broadcasters ensuring the quality of what you read, watched and heard was honest, factual, at times helpful – or even warning you of bad to beware of.

Today, I believe, those standards have slipped – somewhat because anyone can create news and put it on the internet to tempt, persuade readers to be influenced by it.

That was not, and today still is not, I believe, the habit of the BBC, or indeed our own EDP and many printed newspapers fighting for their existence, in Britain, but also worldwide.

The same is so with magazines, be they commentating on general affairs or specialist subjects. Again because the internet creates opportunities for anyone with an opinion, correct or not, to express it to considerable audiences who may be swayed, rightly or wrongly, by what they read.

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BBC Look East is an accurate, usually positive commentary on the news and events in counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex and surrounding neighbourhoods – and must be preserved, as should the newspapers within those counties.

While media in those areas also, of course, present information online, much of it is neither as factually accurate or easy to find and believe if today’s “judges” – ie readers and viewers – are to be believed. Some of that is down to the high level and interruption of advertising in many different formats, on numerous subjects, many totally irrelevant.

Sadly, however, the facts are that newspapers and broadcast media cost money to produce, and with high or even moderate journalistic standards, costs today are still seen as high, despite the disappearance of sub-editors, proof-readers and some broadcast input, including by presenters.

This media news also arrives only at specific times. I buy my EDP daily and read it in the morning before working, in my case, on some other journalistic roles including aiding, charitably, the local delivered community magazine which is appreciated free by the people of our neighbourhood. Its print is paid for by advertising – with an online edition too that costs very little by comparison.

BBC and commercial TV and radio stations also deliver their news at set times, which I believe is right. But some people want news when they want it – or indeed, I believe in increasing numbers, not at all!

They find what they need to know for their existence largely by advertising content – leading them increasingly into a commercially-led life.

I suggest good, honest journalism is still vital for presentation seriously by newspapers, daily and weekly, plus daily, hourly TV and radio stations, some commercial but with care for their listeners and communities.

Let us support the BBC, nationally and regionally, be it by good value licence payment for information, largely uncluttered by unnecessary advertising… and/or ongoing use and input ourselves to its valuable, factual content.

Today, its unique quality is threatened by increasing numbers of commercial stations offering poor value content.

The same goes for our EDP, once known as the ‘bible of Norfolk’ and still much respected by some, but a decreasing number of mature, even aged readers.

The EDP must court more young readers. It bids to stay in touch and up-to-date by varying its ideas, features, content – using a tightening number of young journalists. 
Those who I have met display great enthusiasm to present news factually, covering much of help to readers. 
They care for and want to help you – everybody in our local areas.

Long live the local newspapers and BBC. Plus their words of wisdom!

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