Surprise surprise, the UK media are unrelentingly London-centric – today the mediaguardian has reported that only two BBC staff members have applied to relocated to the corporation’s new centre in Manchester. The only remarkable thing about the story seems to be that the London-based paper formerly known as the Manchester Guardian, thinks that it is newsworthy at all. ITV can’t even manage to commission the minimum legal requirement of programming from the regions. Even legislation can’t thwart London’s dominance!
Apparently, according to the IPPR, the only place in the UK where you won’t be subjected to unrelenting metropolitan media bias is Scotland, where apparently you won’t hear any news that comes from south of the border.
So, is the media governed with an iron fist from within the citadel of the M25, or is the nation’s news gathering dangerously fragmented? I have more sympathy with the first theory.
That the IPPR should view the Scottish case as a problem is strange, for it seems to me to be a shining example of local media in action. With their devolved government and thriving newspaper sector, the Scots are in a better position to be informed and engaged in the political issues affecting them than their English sisters. If this means that they don’t know the scoop on the latest English crime statistics, or educational policy changes, then does that really matter? After all, no-one seems to mind that the UK media almost never report the domestic politics of our European neighbours.
In any case, the IPPR focus on newspapers (the primary news source for about a dozen people these days), is woefully outdated.
We should celebrate the availability of local news sources, while recognising that they do not play an exclusive role in the news-consumption habits of most people.