Why should local news outlets be reporting on events in London in real-time? That was the question posed by some on Twitter yesterday. What value does it add to live blog in Blackpool when events are happening 300 miles away?
One post given prominence by industry website Holdthefrontpage suggested local newsrooms were ‘milking a tragedy’ while another suggested ‘clicks were being put before the truth.’
The reality is far less sinister than that. Put simply, newsrooms responded to what their audiences were talking about. Just because we, as journalists, mark out our work between national news organisations and local ones doesn’t mean our readers do.
That is perhaps best evidenced by looking at some of the social media posts shared by local news organisations over the past 24 hours. They show that what some dismiss as ‘spurious local angles’ are actually of interest to local readers, while others demonstrate that local people are perfectly happy to get national news from a local news site, because they trust it as a news source.
The posts below have been selected because the were flagged up by Crowdtangle as either ‘overperforming’ (in relation to the posting page’s normal posts) or just being engaged with by a lot of people:
To me, the posts above show that regional coverage of a national news event is not about ‘chasing clicks’, it’s about being part of a conversation with your readers every day, and when they start seeking information about a national news event, it makes sense that they turn to the source they interact with on most days.
My view is simple: The regional press demonstrated yesterday that it can play a vital role in the sharing of information in real-time, and be trusted to report respectfully on events which have had such tragic consequences.