How the “local” Croydon Guardian ain’t local at all

This is what I mean about the so-called “local” Croydon Guardian. It ain’t local and it very often ain’t Croydon…From their website and Twitter feed today:

Win a VIP package to watch the World Cup at Walkabout: Win a VIP package to watch the World Cup at Walkabout Clapham.

Walkabout Clapham? Right. That’ll be because Walkabout Croydon went walkabout about a year ago (one of a number of pubs and clubs to have called last orders for a final time, another recurring theme, we expect).

But otherwise, Mr Local Guardian digital editor, that would be a Croydon Guardian story just how exactly?

The thing is, the people of Croydon are regularly fobbed off with stories from other boroughs and suburbs, simply because the nice people who operate the Local Guardian website have targets to meet, with cash coming their way for every eyeball that alights on one of their adverts.

And someone in the marketing or editorial department, probably with a grand title that has (parenthesis) after it which come along with an extra 15 grand a year, reckons that they can generate more traffic if they simply aggregate all their local stories from a range of areas, and pump it out as if it relates to Croydon. Or Epsom. Or  Herne Hill.

So some poor first-jobber, who probably earns less in a year than our Executive (Marketing) gets in bonuses, has been told not to categorise news or sports stories accurately or correctly, but to ensure they get the widest possible distribution across a whole range of Local Guardian so-called local websites.

This represents a fundamental change in the nature of a local newspaper/website and its relationship with its readers and area. It is no longer the newspaper serving its readers, and its area. Rather, it is the readers who happen to visit the website in the hope of finding some real local news who are serving the newspaper, as unwitting traffic fodder for the newspaper executives’ advertisers.

Thus, today at http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/, you have:

“Herne Hill gang smuggled cocaine to school and pet shop”. Yep, Herne Hill (Croydon relevancy: 1/10; the case was heard at Croydon Crown Court).

“Racially abusive rail passengers hunted by police”. Read the story, and it involves an incident on a train between Clapham Junction and Crystal Palace. What’s worse, this – nothing more than a police appeal for witnesses – was posted after 5pm on June 3, eight days after the incident (Croydon relevancy 1/10).

Look to the sports pages, and it gets worse. Cub reporters are always told to look for the local angle, so maybe it is not a surprise to find an article referring to the Cumbrian shooting massacre. And yet…

“Quins players shocked by club tragedy” relates to the death of the brother of the captain of Harlequins rugby league club. Tragic, certainly, but not a Croydon story – Quins play at The Stoop, in Richmond, and there’s no known, or reported, connection between the shooting victim and this borough (Croydon relevancy 0/10).

And so it goes on:

“Brentford’s O’Connor gets second chance” (CR: 1/10; buried in the fourth para is a passing reference to a pre-season fixture arranged with Crystal Palace)

“NPL pipped in high-scoring match”. Wrong in so many ways, beginning with putting Teddington cricket club’s sponsor’s name in the headline, rather than the far more relevant and recognisable club name. But any Croydon references at all? You guessed it, no (CR: 0/10).

It is a cynical manipulation of the readership which is so obviously short-sighted as to be stunning in its stupidity.

No wonder more readers every day are turning to hyper-local blogs and other digital media for their news and information in their area.

Here at Inside Croydon, rather than passing off other people’s material as our own, we will be linking to articles posted by other news organisations. As a rule of thumb, it will be when they are both local and news. So we will be reading the Croydon Guardian so that you don’t have to.

You can comment on any of the stories posted on the blog, or you can write your own article or suggest a subject for an article, by emailing: insidecroydon@btinternet.com

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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