Local news gathering lost at both ends

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We knew it was going to happen. Even OFCOM knew it was going to happen. Back in June the media regulator wrote that:

Economic circumstances make it much less likely that commercial broadcasters would choose to carry news for the UK nations and regions at anything like its current level, in the absence of effective regulatory intervention“.

And so it came to pass. ITV announced today that it was going to make swingeing cuts to regional TV news. Michael Grade told his staff that 17 regional news services would be cut to 9 in 2009.

So far, so predictable, so painful.

But why aren’t ITV, or most of the other broadcasters for that matter, doing more to nurture local citizen news gathering?

ITV’s new ‘news’ service for the public – Uploaded - doesn’t encourage the public to gather news or report, it encourages them to emote. It asks people to upload videos of themselves giving opinionated rants about subjects in the news. Five News’ partnership with Friction TV encourages the same thing.

But the news is there and the public is willing. Indeed the BBC just announced that its ‘user generated content hub’ – i.e. the place where the public send their photos, videos etc. – is going 24/7 from October. Scoopt, a company which sells on news photos and videos from the public, has a successful and growing business.

So not only are commercial broadcasters reducing professional local news gathering, they aren’t even developing any (free) amateur citizen journalism.

Written by Martin Moore

September 12th, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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