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Listen to the latest editionHomepage of The Media Show, Radio4's weekly look at the media.  Wednesday 1.30pm.

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10 December 2008

Shannon Matthews, Media Training and Nations Broadcasting
On The Media Show this week, Steve Hewlett examines the media coverage of the Shannon Matthews story. He also discusses the plurality of supply in television news in the increasingly devolved nations of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  And media training, we learned this week Haringey Council social services department spend many tens of thousands of pounds on it….but is it really worth the money?

Shannon Matthews

Moorside estate residents search for ShannonKaren Matthews’ conviction last week for kidnapping and imprisoning her daughter Shannon has filled front pages, led to countless news bulletins and been widely seen as symbolising “broken Britain”.

But when it first started, as the more straightforward case of a missing schoolgirl, the story was more noteable for the relative lightness of the coverage and its portrayal of the Moorside estate. Julie Bushby, chair of the Moorside Tennants and Residents Association explains what it was like living with the media attention.

Steve also discusses press coverage with Graham Dudman, Managing Editor of The Sun, Richard Edwards of the Yorkshire Evening Post who covered the story on the ground and has also written a book about the case, “Finding Shannon”,  Jeff Edwards who was until last Friday Crime Editor at The Daily Mirror and writer and columnist Joan Smith.

The Future of Broadcasting in the Nations

TV studios and Nations flagsAs ITV moves further away from its regional roots and even considers giving up its status as a public service broadcaster, its historic role as a news supplier in the increasingly devolved nations of the UK is under threat.

The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have both issued reports canvassing new options for broadcasting in their territories. Meanwhile Ulster Television in Northern Ireland depends for its revenues on access to ITV’s schedule, which it might well lose.

Gerraint Talfan Davies is from the institute of Welsh Affairs. Michael Wilson is the Managing Director of Ulster TV and Blair Jenkins chaired the Scottish Broadcasting Commission.

Media Training

MicrophonesIt has emerged that following the death of Baby P, Haringey council spent some £19,000 pounds on media training for the officials involved in the case. This has caused no small amount of local uproar on the grounds that the money might have been better spent looking after children.

But Haringey council are far from alone and in an increasingly media dominated age media training has become a multi-million pound industry. So does it work? And is it worth the money organisations spend on it?

Peter Coë who was once a journalist but is now a media trainer and co-founder of Media Speak.

Comments on today's show

Shannon Matthews:
I think the difference in media treatment of missing Shannon Matthews vis a vis Madeleine McCann could also be down to the latter's parents having friends in the media. The idea that a missing child story might get coverage according to her and her family's "appeal" reminds me of the time -albeit a few years ago now- when I worked for the Met Police publicity side and saw how crime involving ethnic minorities was less "enthusiastically" pursued by the media
James Peacock

I cannot help regarding with irritation the comments made by the sort of people you had talking about the sort of people that live on estates like the Dewsbury Moor estate. Their self serving opinions are based on nothing more than their own sociopolitical views. How many of them have lived on such an estate? I grew up on one and my mother and brother live on those estates still. The level of feckless, benefit dependant, socially irresponsible behaviour exhibited by a significant minority - if not actually a small majority in some areas - is beyond the ability of the chattering classes to truly comprehend. There are so many who truly believe the world owes them support but that they should be free to act as they like because restrictions infringe their civil liberties and have no respect for the property of others, or the right to reasonably enjoy that property. They can be considered to live in a society where the moral fabric that makes an area a community is so badly torn it may be considered broken. Please, if you must invite people to comment on the "working classes" find someone who knows about them.
Simon Trott

I feel some journalists from right wing newspapers should go and live on a council estate like those covered in Dewsbury during the Shannon Matthews affair. It might make them realise what the real world is all about !!!Ian Payne, Walsall.

Broadcasting in the Nations:
The programme was wrong to imply that regional TV in the nations is the same for all smaller nations, for Scotland as for Wales and Northern Ireland. While STV does provide plurality with BBC Scotland as the nation's service it also does so as two regional TV services - for the north and central Scotland, the third Scottish area served by Border TV now merged with Tyne Tees. In fact rather than demonstrating that the greatest public demand for a new national TV service in Scotland the public demand most strongly identified by TNS System Three for the Scottish Broadcasting Commission was for a more localised TV service to provide new and current affairs for the civic regions and cities in Scotland. Plans are in hand supported by councils, production companies and local economic enterprise companies for local TV channels to be launched as a genuine new contribution to public service broadcasting starting with switchover in the South of Scotland in 2009. The Scottish Local TV Federation proposes these local services work together on forming a unified Scottish Network, but this would be far from in a subordinate or relationship - since that would overlook the longstanding historical demand for better local TV provision in the UK. We might ask, where does this leave STV contributing to news plurality BBC Scotland: as a Scotland wide service alternative to BBC Scotland - not as a half-Scottish half-local able to do neither well because of its lack of Scottish coverage and poor local scale.
Dr David Rushton
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The Media Show

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1 October 2008
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8 October 2008
Michael Grade on ITV
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Steve Hewlett

Steve Hewlett

Steve Hewlett is a Guardian Columnist and broadcasting consultant. He is visiting Professor of Journalism and Broadcast policy at Salford University and a fellow of the Royal Television Society.

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