Making the Local News: Local Journalism in Context by Bob Franklin

By Bob Franklin

First released in 1998. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Making the Local News: Local Journalism in Context

First released in 1998. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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1994) Voices and places: the BBC and regional policy’, PoliticalQuarter& vol. 65. Lewis, P. and Booth, J. (1989) The Invisible Medium: Public, CommerciaL and Cornmu@ Radio, London: Macmillan. McNair, B. (1994) Nezvs andjournalism in the UK London and New York: Routledge. Neil, R. (1993) Extending Choice: The Role of BBC J ournalism in the Regions, internal briefing paper issued by BBC Regional Broadcasting. Peacock Committee (1986) Report of the Committee on Financing the BBC, 1986, Cmnd 9824.

They have been poorly financed and perceived both by the public and, apparently, within the Corporation, as existing primarily to feed the networks with locally originating news stories and with promising technical and creative staff. The old Reithian attitude to sound broadcasting coloured even the birth of commercial or ‘independent’ local radio (ILR) in 1973. The Conservatives returned to power after the 1970 general election, and the Sound Broadcasting Act of 1972 expressed their determination to expose the BBC to competition in radio, just as its television service had been exposed to the competition of ITV The service would be local because it was at the local level of VHF/FM transmission that competition could be maximised: a far greater number of commercial operators could gain access to the spectrum than at national and regional levels, thus affording unprecedented choice to the listeners and opportunities to advertisers.

Newspapers always carry commentary, explanation and interpretation alongside the news itself, but as well as lacking the inflections of the human voice they can convey the community’s responses only in the delayed, dead prose of readers’ letters. Regional television does include local debate on public affairs, but as we noted earlier, air time is scarce, and even if it becomes more plentiful, viewers are for much of the day a less ‘available’ species than listeners. Even though ILR has not entirely lost sight of the medium’s ability to treat events and issues as a matter of audible opinion and debate as well as mere things to report, the BBC stations are continuing to exploit it vigorously.

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