Uploaded by Peter-snottycat.
This week, the BBC started the recruitment process for the departments moving up to Salford.
This is something that many northern media folk are excited about. For so long people working in this industry (including yours truly) have had to move to London to fulfil their ambitions.
The BBC’s Media City development will hopefully encourage other media employers to cluster around the quays area and create something similar to London’s silicon roundabout. But it’s not just about jobs.
As Andrew Martin says in his column in the Independent, “we celebrate diversity of race, but not diversity of place.” Many remember that former BBC director general Greg Dyke remarked that the corporation was “hideously white”, but few people remember his complaint that it underserved audiences outside the south of England.
It is positive that the BBC has gone through with the Media City plans as part of its effort to promote diversity. Sure, there are concerns about the Beeb’s commitment to other regions in the north, but that’s for another post.
Now for the bad news. The BBC’s move to Salford comes against the backdrop of an increasingly London-centric media. Last week the Guardian all but ended its historic links with Manchester by selling what remained of its local newspaper empire to Trinity Mirror.
And broadsheets in particular, seem to have developed an increasingly narrow view about what constitutes Home News.
In his book My Trade, the former BBC political correspondent Andrew Marr compares the make up of newspapers from the seventies and nineties with a contemporary one. He found that in the most recent paper he studied there were more column inches devoted to celebrities and fewer covering news from British regions outside London than there were in previous decades.
And even the London-based media recognises there is a problem. In a political blogging event that I attended last week, the Observer columnist Nick Cohen bemoaned the fact that the UK’s political blogs are too Westminster-centric:
“Where are the great blogs about things happening in Manchester or Newcastle where the local newspapers are closing?”
This plea was echoed by a member of the audience who said that political blogging was not about Labour verses Tory but the Westminster Village verses the rest of the country.
Of course, we have some fantastic hyperlocal bloggers serving their communities where local papers don’t. But what we lack is national and international news from a non-metropolitan perspective.
The Manchester Guardian offered this perspective once, let’s hope a Salford-based Five Live will help to plug this gap.