Wales politics

No 'rough deal' for Wales from London media, says Guto Harri

Guto Harri
Image caption Guto Harri says a national newspaper presence in Wales "would be great" for journalism

A senior figure in Rupert Murdoch's media empire denies that Wales gets a "rough deal" from the London press.

News UK communications director Guto Harri - a former BBC journalist from Cardiff - said responsible media were interested in "great stories".

Mr Harri said the fact Wales does some political things differently is "not that interesting in itself".

Meanwhile, he said The Sun was interested in setting up an office in south Wales.

He said the paper was looking at an opportunity of setting up an office in Cardiff or Swansea, "not least with two clubs in the Premier League".

Mr Harri also said the Welsh government could be seen "as a template for what Britain could be like" under Labour.

In a speech to the Royal Television Society in Cardiff, Mr Harri said the London-based press are interested in "great stories" that will resonate "much further afield".

He said: "Journalism is about telling great tales that help people make sense of the world … and ideally take better decisions by being better informed.

"Particular stories are great if they tell a broader or universal truth.

"Big themes come alive if they can be put in the compelling context of a particular person or place.

"The fact that Wales does some political things differently is not that interesting in itself.

"Doing things differently is only interesting if there are lessons that can be drawn for people outside the immediate patch."

'Alternative outlook'

On coverage of Welsh politics, Harri said his four years as spin doctor for London mayor Boris Johnson showed it was possible for a non-Westminster politician - such first minister Carwyn Jones - to get the attention of the national press.

"Carwyn Jones is the most senior Labour figure in office in the UK today," he said.

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Media captionGuto Harri rejected suggestions that the London newspapers ignore or patronise Wales

"What he and his team do here could easily be seen as a template for what Britain could be like under a Labour government.

"He could also offer an alternative outlook to his own party leader, as I dare say Boris Johnson occasionally did.

"Trust me - either of those would be interesting.

"But how many people in this room feel they could explain what the big story is here?

"Could you really articulate how Number 10 would be different if its inhabitant was more like Carwyn Jones than David Cameron?

"I don't feel - as someone who spent more than a decade as a political correspondent and as a Welsh-speaking Cardiff boy, that I could spell out in simple sentences what the current Welsh agenda is. What is the big story?"

He said political coverage "has to be earned - and generated".

Mr Harri also hinted that his own company's Sun newspaper could set up an office in Wales.

"With two Welsh teams in the Premier league, Doctor Who in the Bay, and one Cardiff comprehensive producing both Gareth Bale and Sam Warburton in one vintage, I'm pleased to say that the new editor of the Sun ... is starting to think about investing in a stronger presence in Wales."

He said a Sun office in Cardiff or Swansea was "not out of the question", adding: "I think that would be great for journalism in Wales, and I obviously think there is room for improvement."

He added: "But - cards on the table now - do I think Wales gets a particularly rough deal from the responsible London media? Not really."

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