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BBC Salford and the Manchester Guardian

Jonathan Freedland looks back at the Guardian newspaper's move south from its former Manchester base in 1964 and compares it to today's move by the BBC in the opposite direction.

In the late 1950s The Manchester Guardian demonstrated its national ambition by dropping Manchester from its title. The Guardian wanted to establish itself as far more than a high-brow regional paper with a strong reputation for international coverage. And so, in 1961 the paper started to print in London. It wasn't a great success, furnishing parodists with acres of Grauniad style material to parody while leaving ink all over the hands of the expanding Southern readership. But in 1964 the editorial headquarters followed the printing presses to the capital. Manchester and the north were in decline, yesterday's cities. To be a national paper, the feeling was that you had to be based in London. Spool forward four decades and the BBC have taken an entirely different approach to being a national media organisation. The move of substantial programme-making operations including Five Live and BBC 1 Breakfast to Salford is a statement of intent. A new and exciting northern contribution to output, far greater than the old regional headquarters could ever manage, appears to be the way forward.

So do you achieve national coverage by going to London or by leaving London? The Long View examines whether the decisions are right and why they were made. It tells a story of the changing balance of the North South divide examines the relationship between how you cover the UK and where you are within it.

Image: Part of the reporters' room at the Manchester Guardian.

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