Newspapers and Rebecca Leighton: Who is left to keep on top of the story now?

The Manchester Evening News
The Manchester Evening News

Rebecca Leighton, the nurse who was charged with tampering with saline at Stepping Hill Hospital before having the charges dropped six weeks later, gave her first interview last week. She spoke to This Morning.

In the interview, she spoke about her ordeal which, understandably, included references to the media coverage the case had generated. Miss Leighton spoke of the ‘media’ but when the interview was reported on TV news and radio, there was a lot of talk about the newspaper coverage, but very little about the wall-to-wall broadcast coverage of the case.

Throughout the day of the interview, various broadcast programmes picked up on the story and spoke of the damage done to Ms Leighton by the newspapers. Radio Five Live’s Drivetime programme asked ‘What ever happened to contempt of court?’ It’s a question worth asking, of course, but it’s also inaccurate to paint this out as a broadcast media good, print media bad.

Too often, when one part of the printed media is seen to do something wrong, the whole industry gets tarred with the same brush. That’s unfair – especially when you think about the regional press.

For over a fortnight, the national media – TV, radio and press – were camped outside Stepping Hill Hospital. Then came the arrest. Then came the release. Then came the interview. But there appears to still be a killer uncaught, a community worried about going into hospital, and a police force trying to catch the person responsible.

And how many of those journalists who were outside Stepping Hill are proactively chasing the story? Certainly not most of the broadcast ones, who seem happy to wait for developments to be announced by the police. As far as I can tell, just one media organisation is still chasing the story and holding the authorities involved – the police, the hospital trust – to account. It’s the Manchester Evening News.

Once again, once the national media circus has moved on elsewhere, it’s the regional paper that keeps plugging away at the story, holding those in authority to account, going beyond the obvious story to try and get to the bottom of what is happening – as the splash at the top of this post shows.

And that’s why it’s very unfair to suggest to lump all newspapers in the same bracket when considering their impact on a story.


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