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News mystery

Piers Parry-Crooke | 12:50 UK time, Friday, 7 July 2006

Reader Reg Davison e-mailed this blog on Wednesday saying:

    When Longbridge car plant closed you devoted untold amounts of time to covering that story in the national news bulletins. Whilst I have sympathy for the people who lost their jobs, it was in Britain's second largest city, with numerous opportunites to find other work. [On Tuesday] Imerys, the local china clay producing company in Cornwall, announced 800 job losses. This in a county with a total population of just 500,000, and few other opportunities to find work. It will devastate small communities in a county that is so poor it receives Objective One funding because it is poorer than the eastern European countries who have just joined the enlarged Europe. Did I hear anything on your national news? No, of course I didn't. Does the world exist west of Bristol? In the minds of the people in London, it appears not.

I know that part of Cornwall quite well, and am very conscious of the china clay industry's significance, now and historically. Here in the business unit the job cuts were discussed pretty fully that morning in the early editorial meeting.

I'm afraid it's just not the case that the news went unreported. Radio, in particular, covered it extensively, from the moment the company announcement came out. The first voiced report from Sarah Ransome in Plymouth was on Five Live at 1000, unions and company were in later news summaries, and Sarah did a much longer piece for the six o'clock and midnight news on Radio 4. Looking back at the day's output it looks to me as if the news was broadcast, in one form or another, every hour on the radio between 1000 and about 1900. And the next morning Today had an interview with a representative from the county council.

On television, News 24 carried the story several times during the day, including a report from a correspondent in the region.

It has to be said the papers give it pretty scant coverage as well. It's one of the mysteries of news, how one story fizzles out and another soars.


  • 1.
  • At 05:13 PM on 07 Jul 2006,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

I always thought that news meant precisely that. New knowledge.
It can be either serious or frivolous, just as long as it is new, not
re-hashed information.
The thing that I detest, to use that terrible Americanism, is dumbing down.
Report the news as you will but please treat us as rational adults.

  • 2.
  • At 10:24 PM on 07 Jul 2006,
  • Thomas Tengsted wrote:

You mention all the news programmes that did carry the story, but there seems to be no mention of what was broadcast on the main television news programmes.

What did the Six, and Ten o'Clock News on BBC One show for this story?

  • 3.
  • At 12:31 PM on 08 Jul 2006,
  • Michael Ford wrote:

"It's one of the mysteries of news, how one story fizzles out and another soars."

I would say that it is fairly self explanatory. The more coverage + hype the media gives a story, the more it is kept to the forefront of the general public's mind.

I would say that as this story was generated out in one of the "provinces" it was easy to drop. To be replaced by some other story in London or one of the other cities. Fairly typical of the treatment the South West gets i would say. The story was obviously not carried on the main national BBC1 news or else Piers would have mentioned it. The fact that it was not carried in the national papers either does not make this right.

  • 4.
  • At 12:33 PM on 08 Jul 2006,
  • Steve Duncan wrote:

We lost 4500 jobs in Torbay over six years from a single site, that's 6% of the working-age population. We now have (nearly) the lowest average wage in the country. Did we get national news coverage? No. Did we get a £150m support package? No.

  • 5.
  • At 01:11 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Luke Phillips wrote:

Regarding the Imerys story, it strikes me as surprising that no mention was made of the fact that Imerys is in fact a French company which bought the English China Clay Company in 1999 for around £750m.

In an era in which absolutely huge numbers of British companies are being sold to foreign companies, often in extremely questionable circumstances*, I find it amazing that journalists are not questioning more and more the fact that selling out nearly always leads to job losses, and therefore questioning our government's total commitment to a full market economy despite the fact that the rest of the world refuses to do so.

*The questionable circumstances I refer to are the recent purchases by Spanish companies of British companies, which is being made possible by an illegal 25% rebate given by the Spanish government for foreign acquisitions. In particular, the sale of BAA is the most idiotic transaction that has been allowed, since BAA is an essential part of infrastructure for which security is critical.

  • 6.
  • At 12:22 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Matt Baker wrote:

the real problem was that the Government weren't interested in the job losses; there were very few photo opportunities. Newshounds follow the politicians and the Beeb are no different.
Rover was pitched as the "last" british car company and it was just before an election. Both events likely to pull the political heart strings.
As the politicos got involved - and there was a whiff of scandal - the press just jumped on it in the usual way.
Bad luck you guys, you just didn't fill the criteria for a "good" story.

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