Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Inside what? Just get on with it Croydon...

Now, I'm not averse to a good old scrap, be it in print or behind closed doors, so I was particularly amused to see a little tete-a-tete developing between one London editor and a blogger this week.

The esteemed - only by himself admittedly - Inside Croydon recently had a bit of a rant against a campaign run by the Croydon Advertiser, a Northcliffe weeklie.

Inside Croydon claims the paper - in their 'it-was-us-what-won-it' edition - was in collusion with the councillor concerned over the results of a consultation.

Clearly, if Inside Croydon has any actual experience in a newsroom, he'll already know that no newspaper will run a campaign unless a. they can win it, or b. it is a hugely popular lost cause that not even the campaigners expect to win anyway.

So, we all take the Croydon Advertiser gloating with a pinch of salt, as every paper deserves to big itself up every now and again.

But not Mr Inside Croydon, he attacks the paper pretty harshly, with rapier-like wit such as:

"Yet the Croydon Sadvertiser, with its deadline of last Wednesday – a full seven days before the announcement is due – contained extensive details from what it claimed to be a leaked council report, alongside a lovingly staged picture of “Two Permits” Thomas and the paper’s editor receiving a massive ... 250 signatures [coughs with embarrassment].

"The Sadvertiser was very late to this particular story, despite being contacted by local residents’ groups nearly two months ago. In the end, the CRAPP (that’s not too rude; it means Croydon Residents Against Parking Plans) online campaign, and its dedicated band of supporters who leafleted and petitioned in their neighbourhoods, managed to raised [sic] nearly 10 times the number of signatures that the local newspaper did."

Again, as anyone who has ever been involved with regional/local/national newspapers knows, the last thing, the very, very last thing that anyone should do at this point is respond...

Well, I thought everyone knew that anyway.

Cue a rather tetchy response from Croydon Advertiser editor Glenn Ebrey in his online blog.

Glenn, in a total loss of any kind of editorial judgement, hits back with just as non-rapier-like wit, with such gems as:

"Firstly, he continually describes us as the Croydon S-Advertiser, which must have taken a whole 30 seconds to think up. No chance of a job on the subs desk with lame puns like that.

"Then, he goes on to criticise us for daring to start a campaign (a successful campaign, I might add) against Croydon Council’s parking proposals. If we hadn’t bothered with a campaign, we probably would have been criticised for that too. Isn’t campaigning what all good local newspapers should be doing?

"Next, we are slammed for having the cheek to report documents we obtained before their official publication. Isn’t that just good journalism Mr Insider?"

Well, not really Glenn, as anyone who knows anything about journalism will also know that in all probability, there was no Mission Impossible-esque espionage involved in getting the report. Or was there? If so, please email me with the details and I'll happily praise your reporter/s for their efforts!

Anyway, as shit as that response is, it's nothing to what Mr Ebrey does next.

Yes, in true local rag style, he challenges the Inside Croydon blogger to spend a day in his newsroom while boasting of the paper's circulation.

Again, anyone in papers knows this is total bollocks, so stop trying to kid yourself that the Croydon Advertiser is different from any other newspaper in the country Glenn and is enjoying a new-found period of growth and prosperity, it isn't.

However, he wrote: "The mystery blogger also suggests we have an “increasingly small circulation”. Last time I checked, our papers were distributed to more than 100,000 people a week. That sounds like a pretty captive audience to me.

"I have no idea who Mr Insider is because, despite being so forthright in his views, he very bravely decides to remain anonymous.

"But, if you are reading this, I’d like to put forward a challenge to you Mr Insider. Come and spend a day in our office, see how hard our reporters work, the dedication and hours they put into producing the paper each week, and see if it changes your view."

I mean Christ, if you're going to go out on a limb and respond, you might as well do it in a really innovative way; a car park fight perhaps?

But no, the old day in the newsroom challenge it was.

And Inside Croydon's response?

"If you don’t mind, for now we’ll pass your offer for us to give up a day of our expertise to give your staff some training and show them how to do their jobs. And we will continue to judge them, and you, on results."

That was, at least, actually quite funny.

However not unexpected, as the last time I had any contact with Mr Inside Croydon, I was emailed with strict instructions not to publish any of his comments in this blog, I presume due to a sudden burst of shyness.

Oh, the irony...

But in this case, I can't help but doff my cap to Inside Croydon, and wield a sword of disappointment in the direction of Glenn Ebrey for committing the ultimate newspaper crime of rising to the bait and losing.

Disappointing all round really.

No comments:

Post a Comment