Hull editor urges staff 'don't give help to BBC'

Meehan:intends to remain No.1

Hull Daily Mail editor John Meehan is determined his journalists will take on and beat local competition from the BBC’s soon-to-be-expanded Look North and has told his journalists not to assist the programme with contacts or local knowledge.

In a memo to his 70 staff, he outlined the BBC’s plans to broadcast Hull news in Look North’s 6.30pm bulletin and at the end of the Ten O’Clock News with future plans for a full half-hour programme each evening.

"Make no mistake, this amounts to a major challenge to our position as the leading provider of news and information in east Yorkshire. In fact, it is probably the most significant editorial competition we have ever faced," he wrote.

Meehan wants his staff to "beat the BBC out of sight", getting every local story first – "coming second, either in time or quality is not accepted.  I want to see the BBC spending day after day following up the stories we broke first."

The memo expressly forbids journalists helping BBC staff.

He told Press Gazette: "We will write about the BBC from time to time but we are not in the business of actively promoting an organisation which offers services that may compete with our own. Does the BBC promote ITV?"

Meehan expects cordial relations between his staff and the BBC’s to continue but said: "Our job is to get the news first and ensure it is the best of any media. I see no reason why we should assist them. Journalists like a bit of competition, I like a bit of competition, but we intend to remain No.1."

A BBC source said it was "unbelievable" that a newspaper would ignore a legitimate news story that involved £25m investment for Hull.

Helen Thomas, managing editor of the new project, said: "The way they manage their business is up to them, but we are convinced there is a demand for a local news service in Hull."

By Jean Morgan and Julie Tomlin

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