Fleet Street focus will lose PG readers

Piers Morgan’s reference to Fleet Street as “the Premiership” of
British journalism, and his intention to give it priority over the
regions, does not bode well for Press Gazette’s future (Press Gazette,
17 June).

Adopting a patronising stance towards the provinces is
not a good business decision, especially as most of his prospective
readers live and work there.

However, his attitude is very much
in line with that of quite a few national papers, which is probably why
their circulations are going through the floor. People outside London
don’t like being treated as third-rate, especially when they aren’t.

In
my 40-odd years in journalism, it’s always been the second string that
went to Fleet Street. The first team, the hard core of solid
professionals, preferred to work in their own communities, or didn’t
fancy the stresses and strains of London life.

When I was at the
Nottingham Evening Post in the 1960s, hardly any of the 30 or 40
excellent reporters on the staff ever gave Fleet Street a thought.

And one of them just happened to be the best reporter I’ve ever met – an outstanding operator who left me awestruck.

Contrary
to Morgan’s contention, very few of the young journalists working in
the provinces in those days were gagging to get to Fleet Street.

Most
saw the red-tops as more showbiz than journalism, and the broadsheets
were viewed as the preserve of the Oxbridge set. In the regions, they
got the chance to be involved in solid middle-market journalism
relevant to the people they served. I imagine many feel the same today.

When
it comes to professionalism, you only have to set papers such as the
Western Morning News, The Scotsman and the Wolverhampton Express &
Star alongside the Mirror to see that Fleet Street has nothing to teach
those guys.

A word of advice, then. Unless Morgan abandons his
London fixation, he will lose all his readers, just like he did at the
Mirror. That would be a pity because journalists – all journalists –
need their own trade magazine and Press Gazette has done a good job
over the years. I, for one, would like to see it survive.

John Marquis managing editor The Tribune Nassau, Bahamas

PS: In case you’re wondering, yes, I did spend many happy years in
London as a Reuters sub-editor and globe-trotting sports editor with
Thomsons. And, yes, they did ask me back. However, when it came to
choosing between the Bahamas and the Isle of Dogs, the Bahamas shaded
it, I’m afraid.

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