The News Shopper did something unexpected last week. It published a story bemoaning the secrecy which surrounds Greenwich Council. All very good stuff. Of course, they’re entirely correct – huge decisions are being taken by senior councillors with very few checks and balances in place.
What they’re not saying, though, is how the ailing local press is exacerbating this. The News Shopper bleated on about Greenwich being “the most undemocratic local authority in the country”, but couldn’t be bothered to send a reporter up from distant Petts Wood to last month’s council meeting. missing a curious incident involving leader Chris Roberts. The Shopper might be complaining now, but it’ll surely soon be back to cutting and pasting 14-paragraph-long quotes from the Dear Leader himself before long. It’s cheaper than doing any proper reporting.
The News Shopper isn’t the only place where good reporters are being shafted by idiot owners. Last month, all editorial and production staff at the Mercury and South London Press were offered voluntary redundancy, sparking fresh fears for the Mercury’s future. It takes a special kind of fool to try to slim down London media outlets in the capital’s most newsworthy year for decades, but that’s the Mercury’s octogenarian proprietor Ray Tindle for you. The poor old Mercury probably doesn’t have long left, leaving us to be hectored at from the suburbs by the News Shopper, and patronised by Greenwich Time.
The brazenness of Greenwich’s – sorry, Royal Greenwich’s (cough) – media strategy can be seen on the front of last week’s Greenwich Time, with a sinister-looking shot of the Dear Leader, MPs Nick Raynsford and Clive Efford, council chief executive Mary Ney and Greenwich borough commander Richard Wood overseeing a parade of the King’s Troop. Looks familiar, doesn’t it?