We don't have to put up with the outbursts of cynical local publishers. We need to talk to each other more. So why are so many indie titles around here having a nervous breakdown in public?
Substitute "Huddersfield Examiner" for "Liverpool Echo" and every word of it still rings true. It's not coincidence that they are both owned by Reach plc.
I gave up on the Examiner when they decided that "well-known fast food chain makes fun of our sports reporter's name" counted as news.
Since then, they appear to have got even worse. It's all tenth-rate minor celebrities, trashy reality TV shows and a bizarre obsession with London-based newsreaders. It was my bingo card poking fun at their formulaic and news-free output that finally got me banned from their facebook page
I wish I could click "like" more than once for this. (And not just for "curmudgeonly but brilliant".) It's all so true.
When I was freelancing for the Daily Post & Echo in the 80s and 90s there were still old-school hacks who had long lunch "hours" in the pub and usually came back with a story. No chance of that these days when reporters are chained to the desk, scraping Twitter for a living. (I also remember when Liverpool Confidential did proper journalism, when Angie Sammons was editor.)
I don't live in Liverpool any more so I can't comment on specifics but it feels to me that the problem isn't with "local publishers" but the fact that they aren't actually local now. When it comes to the Echo, at least, the strategy comes from Reach and it's the same across the country.
Look at any "local" paper that's not locally owned (where I live, the culprit is Newsquest) and you see the same downward spiral - newsdesks run on a shoestring, inexperienced reporters who never get the time to learn their trade properly, not enough subs to stop crap getting published... it's bad for journalism and (speaking as an NUJ member) bad for journalists too.
I wish I knew what the answer was. But I feel better for reading your rant.
Great article. Agree with you about The Post. It's by far the best place to find high quality journalism in Liverpool.
I hope you can also start writing articles a for Seven Streets again though David. I've really enjoyed your writing in The Post, particularly the article on the Liverpool cruise industry, but I think that there are things you could say in this newsletter that you couldn't in The Post.
I also think that a healthy diversity of substack newsletters and (local media generally) is important. We all tend to write for our subscribers in the end. I have a sense that I can't write certain things in my debating society newsletter because of the need, for example, to be sensitive to our Ukraine group. However, I feel can write about the political ramifications of the new and old Chinatowns in Liverpool, which I think the Post couldn't do for fear of upsetting their current or potential subscribers. Also, in the absence of an effective regulator to hold independent local journalism to account, I think scrutiny by our peers will become increasingly important part of the checks and balances of the system.
Thanks again for all the great articles you've written here and in The Post