Archive for the ‘scoop’ tag

Scoop: British rail to be renationalised (apparently)

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When is a front page lead not a front page lead? When you can’t tell if it’s real. Today’s Times leads with ‘Secret talks open way to nationalise rail network‘ by Ben Webster.
Now this could be:
a) a genuine scoop
b) a semi scoop (i.e. a punt based on substantial sources and intelligent analysis)
c) a ‘manufactured’ story (i.e. story based on less substantial sources elevated to ‘news’ status)
The reason it’s so difficult to tell is partly because no-one else has it. I’ve checked the FT, the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, and the Daily Telegraph. Nothing. Which, in our age of 24/7 publishing either means they think it’s a non-story and/or no-one else has access to the same sources as The Times.
But what are The Times’ sources? The article refers to ‘secret talks’ between Network Rail and Scottish Labour politicians but doesn’t say how the paper knows the contents of these talks. It also refers to ‘a thinly veiled reference’ within Labour’s Scottish election manifesto; but it would be a great leap from here to a news story about renationalisation. Otherwise it quotes figures who say they would approve of such a policy if it happened.
If it is a ‘manufactured’ story – to catch the eye of all of us who dearly dream of a better train service – then why this? Why not, like the Independent, lead with the attention grabbing ‘Revolution in cancer treatment’ (rather than bury it on p.25)?
I realise that trying to work out the motives behind a front page lead puts me firmly into the category of news-nerd, but it also shows the value of editors blogs (like the BBC’s) in an age when we’re all becoming more sceptical about what makes the news.

Written by Martin Moore

April 12th, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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