Digital news chief defends coverage of Westminster attacks by distant local newspapers

The digital chief for a major regional publisher has defended local newspapers who reported on the Westminster terror attack despite no clear connection to the incident.

Trinity Mirror digital publishing director David Higgerson was responding to claims that local titles had been “milking a tragedy” by reporting on the attack, which has so far claimed five lives.

In a blog post he said readers did not “mark out our work between national news organisations and local ones” in the same way that journalists did.

A number of regional dailies splashed on the terror attack at Westminster, including the Bournemouth Daily Echo, Norwich Eastern Daily Press and Birmingham Mail. Many also covered it online.

While some had a clear local angle, some chose to cover it as a non-local national story which editors felt was of interest to local readers.

Higgerson said: “They show that what some dismiss as ‘spurious local angles’ are actually of interest to local readers, while others demonstrate that local people are perfectly happy to get national news from a local news site, because they trust it as a news source.”

He added: “To me, the [stories] show that regional coverage of a national news event is not about ‘chasing clicks’, it’s about being part of a conversation with your readers every day, and when they start seeking information about a national news event, it makes sense that they turn to the source they interact with on most days.

“My view is simple: The regional press demonstrated yesterday that it can play a vital role in the sharing of information in real-time, and be trusted to report respectfully on events which have had such tragic consequences.”

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