Kent editors urged to tackle police PRs

Broadbent: canvassing opinion

The editor of the Kent and Sussex Courier wants fellow editors in the county to unite to tackle what he sees as the big problem of poor media relations with the police.

In the wake of Kentish Times editor Melody Ryall’s criticism of the journalist-police press officer dialogue (Press Gazette, 25 October), Giles Broadbent is writing to other weekly paper editors to suggest they seek a meeting with either the Chief Constable, the Kent Police Authority or the head of the force’s media department, Mark Pugash.

"Melody Ryall’s article struck a chord with me," he told Press Gazette.  "I have written about this in the paper and lobbied Kent Police individually about the poor relations. It seems reasonable that we should try to pull together our various worries and concerns and hope that a joint effort of the media in Kent would be enough to persuade Kent Police they shouldn’t be frightened of us. If they treated us with some respect it would be good for all those involved."

Broadbent said he was writing to as many editors as possible to ask for their opinion: "Some people might have better relations than others, but those I’ve spoken to informally suggest that theys have had similar experiences to Melody and myself.

"We need to say to the police that this is a concern that goes beyond individual spats here and there; this is an institutional problem and it is not right to suggest, as Mark Pugash has done, that in 99 cases out of 100, things are satisfactory, when the reverse is quite clearly the case," he said.

The media felt passionately about the issue, Broadbent said, and wanted to find ways to remove barriers and move forward. "It’s something that’s not going to go away. We deal with it on a daily basis and it presents us with tremendous problems."

Ryall has been contacted by a number of media editors and freelances supporting her stance since she launched her broadside in her newspaper. "For some reason, a culture has grown up within the land of press officers that they must protect the police from journalists," she wrote.

By Jean Morgan

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