Media turns fire on itself over reporting of Bristol case

The concerns surrounding some media reporting of the Joanna Yeates murder case in Bristol have become more public since I blogged about it a couple of days ago.

It emerged yesterday that Avon and Somerset Police took the rare step of banning ITV News from its morning press briefing because it had run a story the previous night that was the force thought was unfairly critical of its investigation. The ban was lifted, and the report did not threaten to undermine potential legal proceedings (as other reports have done). But it’s a measure of how tense things have become, and illustrates how the media risks misjudging the balance between reporting freely (which should always be allowed) and irresponsibly (which the police are right to act against, in the interests of finding Joanna Yeates’ killer).

Meanwhile, the Bristol Evening Post’s splash yesterday reported how media organisations were written to by suspect Christopher Jefferies’ lawyers and warned of their probing into, and reporting of, their client’s life. The high number of reader comments underneath the story (not all are relevant, admittedly) demonstrate the strength of feeling and interest there is locally about the case.

When I worked in newspapers, it was made clear that you did not write stories about the antics of fellow journalists; the public was ‘not interested’ in such introspection. When the news media does report on itself, you can be sure that something is seriously amiss, as Roy Greenslade points out here.

Links I like 10.12.14

Here are a small number of online reactions I have noticed from those directly affected by the Localism Bill, laid in Parliament yesterday.

‘We welcome the general thrust of the Bill…however…’ – GWE Business West blog
A cautious welcome from the Chambers of Commerce covering Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire.

Reaction to Localism Bill – LGiU the local democracy blog
One of a few decent posts on the LGiU blog, from chief executive Andy Sawford (who is also worth following on Twitter).

Getting to the heart of localism – Living with rats
Julian Dobson writes about a Bradford community group that has put localism into action and highlights some of the policy pitfalls in the process.

‘Barbara’s our Boris’ – Bristol Evening Post
Reaction to yesterday’s news that Bristol City Council leader Barbara Janke is its ‘answer to Boris Johnson’, as part of the bill’s plans to created a new breed of 12 elected mayors in England’s urban metropolitan areas. Here’s hoping for a decent debate on this issue in the months ahead.  



Papers prove the best campaigns ‘work’

On the day I complete my latest round of Continuing Professional Development for another year, Roy Greenslade highlights the campaigning newspapers who have created much-needed apprenticeships and training opportunities in their localities.

I remember being impressed by the Bristol Evening Post splash when the paper hit 100 apprenticeships on the first day of its campaign earlier this year. No mean feat in these testing times. It seems, however, the EP got the idea from Ian Mean’s paper, The Citizen, a few months earlier.

It quite literally proves the old newspaper adage that the best campaigns are the ones that work.

Congratulations to the papers who have run these campaigns and made a difference to hundreds of young lives in the process.