Go small, AND go home: the future of regional journalism

It doesn’t take much to make me feel guilty.

And so I’ve been feeling guilty about Facebook.

I’ve neglected it recently, a bit like I’ve neglected this blog.

And I’m not the only one. Whether because – like me – people have been spending more time on other social media such as Twitter and Instagram, whether there aren’t enough young users coming through, or whether we’ve just lost interest in vicarious enjoyment of our friends’ and relatives’ social lives, we’re spending less time with Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.

The wonderful BBC media editor Amol Rajan has written some really incisive analysis on what could be the beginning of the end of Facebook’s overwhelming dominance of so much of our lives.

My lack of engagement with Facebook means I’ve probably seen fewer news stories than I otherwise would have, although it’s all part of a pretty complicated picture.

Mr Zuckerberg actually wants people to spend less time on his platform, so that their experience is one of quality rather than quantity. And loosening ties with news providers by tinkering with Facebook’s algorithms is one way to do just that, he has decided.

For much of the regional media, and for significant swathes of the rest of the industry, Facebook has become akin to a drug, with some websites relying on it for up to 70 per cent of their traffic.

When Facebook decides to change tack, when it decides that journalism is more trouble than it’s worth, that doesn’t just move the goalposts: it changes the game entirely.

The social media giant says it wants the workings of its algorithms to protect local news and information.

But that hasn’t stopped the latest spasm of cuts at my old employers Trinity Mirror, where 49 jobs are under threat.

More of my friends will lose their jobs in the next few weeks, while others will have to work in offices with far more empty seats. And the website of my beloved Bath Chronicle is being dismantled.

I have been very, very careful to avoid public criticism of the leadership of firms such as Trinity Mirror. There are senior managers such as David Higgerson for whom I have massive respect, particularly for their willingness to engage with their critics. And I need to preserve good relations so that the door is always open to my students for visits and work placements.

But it’s tempting to conclude that a line has been crossed here in terms of commitment to quality journalism and community involvement.

And I need convincing of the merits of merging websites at a time when those Facebook changes will reduce the number of people coming to your stories via social.

For the sake of my students, and for the sake of my friends still doing the very best they can in newsrooms across the west of England, I have to view my glass as half-full. And I still do.

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But it makes me more certain than ever that the shareholder model for the news media is, if not broken, definitely on the mechanic’s ramp.

There will certainly be a lot of people looking under the bonnet at Trinity Mirror after it moved to buy the Express and Star titles, a decision that will see more journalists looking for new jobs in the next year.

The media organisations of the future will either have to be small, locally-focussed and locally-owned – or catering for a high end niche market prepared to pay for specialist information and insights. In both cases, they will be serving a real community, or community of interest, providing a unique service.

The Guardian doesn’t fall neatly into either of those camps, and its subscription/donation model may work only because of its specific demograph of left-leaning people with a bit of money to spare.  But the success of that model shows the potency of turning your audience into your champions and supporters.

On the subject of paywalls, they’re not some kind of panacea for all our media crisis troubles, by the way. Unless you’re bringing an awful lot of added value, you won’t succeed.

There’s a sense in which less has to be more. Either you focus on a smaller geographical area, or a smaller, more specialist area of interest.

That point was underlined at our alumni day on Friday, when some of the greatest optimism for the future came from the deputy editor of a tiny Welsh weekly, and a designer working on niche magazines.

 

They were on a panel with reporters from Sky and a news agency, and PR professionals from big name sports clubs and from a forward-thinking agency.

All loved their jobs. All seemed in control of their destinies. All exuded confidence and wisdom beyond their years. I hadn’t taught any of them, but I was immensely proud.

Above all, they gave me huge comfort and reassurance that studying journalism is a damn good thing to do.

For months, I have looked at a lot of our third year students and thought: I’d give you a job now if I had one.

There is no shortage of talented young people ready for work in the media industry if only we can find the right business models.

I don’t have a lot of hope that Theresa May’s inquiry into the sustainability of the local and national media is going to come to much.  It’s classic long-grass stuff, both to delay the painful decisions hanging over from Leveson and to postpone any stance-taking on the regulation of Facebook and Google.

But we do need some radical thinking, which ought to involve everyone from the NCTJ to those new media companies, and to build on the success of some hyperlocal publications as well as co-operatives where the audience is also the owner such as The Bristol Cable.

It would be splendid if a way could be found to persuade our friends at Facebook to put some money into an extension of the BBC-funded Local Democracy Scheme so that its work in covering local and regional corridors of power could be expanded into the courts.

Decisions on which media should be given public notice advertising should be made on the basis of their commitment to continued and comprehensive coverage of local government.

There are no easy answers to any of this: if there were, we’d have found them by now.

But we are approaching a perfect storm in which an industry spreads its resources ever more thinly across huge, arbitrarily-drawn, artificial coverage areas while the communities that matter to most of us get smaller and more self-regarding by the day.

 

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Politicians and the press: why we need to be each others’ critical friends

I used to speak to my paper’s local MP two or three times a week.

At one point, he said something which I found both reassuring and terrifying in equal measure.

“You know what I think about this, Paul. I’m happy for you to make up a quote and attribute it to me.”

The relationship between regional journalists and the politicians that serve their area is a delicate and complicated one.

Both are theoretically working for the common good, with a mission to celebrate and champion their communities.

Like all senior figures in the public sector, MPs will say something like: “We just expect you to be fair. If I’ve/we’ve got something wrong, we know you’ll hold us to account for it.”

Like all senior figures in the public sector, they don’t always mean it.

And God knows leading a public sector organisation today is nightmarishly challenging – and getting worse by the day. It’s not a barrel of laughs being an MP, either: your life is no longer your own, the hours are relentless, and your waistline and heart must feel under continuous attack.

The reason I could square the role of quote-writer to the political party veteran with my conscience was that I remembered far livelier conversations – often around election time, and occasionally involving stroppy silences that lasted several weeks.

I also recall being ambushed by that politician and a neighbouring MP from a different party on live TV. Both accused my paper of being biased. The fact that the allegations of bias directly contradicted each other gave me great pleasure. As always, if everyone thinks you’ve got it in for them you’re probably doing a pretty good job.

But despite that TV encounter, and despite those periodic spats, our relationship never descended into downright abuse.

Our paper was never described as ‘journalism with crayons’ or ‘shoddy’ – terms used by Teeside MP Emma Lewell-Buck and her husband Simon Buck in attacks on the Shields Gazette over its coverage of a boundary shake-up.

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I wonder how some of our past political disagreements would have played out on Twitter.

I was intrigued to see one of my home city of Plymouth’s MPs criticising the Herald over its coverage of both defence cuts and the cleanliness of the local hospital.

When I first read Johnny Mercer’s comments, I was tempted to put him in the same category as the Lewell-Bucks.

But I know he’s an interesting, intelligent, thoughtful character. And maybe there is slightly more nuance to his criticism. He’s certainly not critical of all journalism.

Having said that, I was glad to see reporters, former reporters and journalists on other Trinity Mirror titles defending the Herald’s corner.

Herald crime reporter Carl Eve wasn’t taking any nonsense about political bias in the regional media. Nor was he prepared to accept that the Herald has a glass half-empty approach to local life.

At least Mr Mercer is engaging in the debate.

That’s more that can be said for Sheffield MP Jared O’Hara who has vanished without trace after taking a period of sick leave in the face of criticism of some comments he made in the past.

There’s been some good coverage by the Yorkshire Post on all this, including some nice doorstepping of his office, which seems to have triggered his sudden decision to return to work.

As one of the commentators in a Twitter thread on the Mercer vs Herald debate acknowledges, MPs and the media should be each others’ watchdogs.

I like to think both are critical friends, honestly holding the other to account in good faith, and in pursuit of similar goals.

I made it a principle never to be friends with a politician on Facebook. But I don’t subscribe to the view that the only noble position for a journalist to hold is one of constant and suspicious attrition.

The best journalists and politicians realise that, even if they don’t always feel they need each other, their communities require both.

A New Year’s resolution: let’s make sure we share good news reporting in 2018

As presentations go, it was a pretty rubbish one.
When I first started giving talks about how to write, long before that became my job, I put together some slides containing advice and tips.
I was particularly keen on one of them.
It just featured one word: READ.
I went on to elaborate: you will only improve your writing by reading more of other people’s.
And I urged my audience – whether students, would-be village correspondents or radio station newsroom volunteers – to put any sensitivities and snobbishness aside.
“Some of the greatest writing in the English language today is in The Sun,” was a line I regularly used.
Sometimes I’d go further. “If Shakespeare was alive today, he’d be writing headlines for The Sun,” I once claimed.
So let’s get this clear: I have always been a fan of the way in which our most popular newspapers make words work. The way they paint pictures, encapsulate ideas and wage war on waffle.
Great journalism can be found in The Sun and the Mail, along with very welcome investment in good writing, of that there is no doubt.
And there are good people writing for both titles. I know and am very fond of some of them.
I say that not just because it’s true but also because there have been some fascinating debates on Twitter in the last few days about whether it’s possible to be both a decent human being and a writer for the tabloids. One was started by Thea de Gallier
with another by Sophie Brown.

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I hate the world view the Sun and Mail espouse, the political hang-ups they cling to, the misleading stereotypes they encourage and the division and negativity that characterise so much of their coverage.
But I’d never discourage one of my students from working for them.
I’d make sure they went into the application process with their eyes open. But also that they had the courage to keep their mouth open, too, if what they were being asked to do challenged their conscience. Call me woefully naïve, but I can’t believe there are organisations that cannot be reformed from within.
You only have to look at the way in which sports journalists on The Times refused to accept their paper’s sidelining of the Hillsborough inquest verdict, and ensured that the second edition was changed to reflect such landmark news.
And here’s one final thought, the basis for a New Year’s resolution for all of us.

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It stems from a tweet in one of those threads from journalist Jessica Bateman, and a cracking blog from a man who has felt himself under fire from both the Mail and the Sun. John Sutherland is a senior police officer in London and was understandably riled by The Sun’s critical coverage of what it regarded as failures in the war on crime. He also happens to suffer from depression, and has for some time been on anti-depressants – or ‘happy pills’ as The Mail’s recent inane splash headline called them.  Both stories to him illustrate a media default setting of carping from the sidelines, of seeing darkness rather than candles.

Tearing down is easy. It’s a little more difficult to build things up

I like to think that my own Twitter thread already reflects the glass half-full outlook recommended by both Jessica and John.

Rather than just railing against news coverage that disgusts us, we need to praise and celebrate the good stuff. Particularly if that good stuff is on occasions rolling its sleeves up and floating enlightened solutions to problems.
If we want a different, more positive and constructive, sort of journalism, it starts with us.

My journalism heroes of 2017: All of you

It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

And for the last three years, it’s been even more wonderful because I haven’t had to work up to the Christmas wire.

Tomorrow night, I will be able to close my laptop for a week and have a break.

It wasn’t always thus. Four years ago, I was updating The Bath Chronicle’s website well into the evening of Christmas Eve as the River Avon threatened to burst its banks and flood the city centre.

I’ve spent Boxing Days filling thin December 27 editions and cut short celebrations to be in at the crack of the dawn of a new year – hangover and all.

So, as other media folk reveal their heroes of 2017, I have no hesitation in naming mine.

They’re everyone working in the regional media.

It’s been a joy looking through my fellow blogger Steve Dyson’s list of regional media heroes – particularly as he celebrated the work of my onetime colleague Tim Dixon, as well as the investigative journalism of the inspiring Emma Youle and the spirit of axed editor Sarah Cox.

There’s been pride, too, at the recognition of the incredible work of the Manchester Evening News editorial team at the British Journalism Awards.

And it was uplifting to see the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Bureau Local Twitter thread showcasing some of the great stories that made a difference over the past year – as well as to see its launch of a new project to scrutinise council budgets.

But to me, anyone soldiering on in newsrooms from Truro to Thurso is a bit of a hero.

I don’t entirely buy into the spirit of the comment below – journalism is still a fantastic and fascinating job, which remains a real privilege.

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But these are difficult times, especially if you work for Newsquest, whose insistence that cutbacks in its newsrooms are all unconnected and uncoordinated beggars belief. Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 08.30.51

I feel particularly sad about the loss of jobs at my former paper, the Swindon Advertiser.

But depleting resources and the departure of much-loved colleagues are only part of the picture.

Ever-increasing and seemingly non-negotiable web targets combine with a sceptical and ungrateful public to add to the challenge facing all regional journalists.

That suspicion of the traditional, so-called mainstream media is part of an arc of conspiracy theorist fantasising that starts with Donald Trump and goes all the way round to left-leaning sites such as The Canary – now thankfully censured for its ridiculous nonsense about Laura Kuenssberg.

I know of no one in the regional media who is interested in anything other than the truth, and no one who doesn’t have his or her community’s best interests at heart.

Day in, day out, they do their best to square circles, to serve up what can feel like the turkey twizzlers of quick fix web content while still lovingly preparing the home-cooked roast turkey of storytelling that has a lasting impact. And putting together print products that still offer the best way of getting people to lift their eyes from second screens and filter bubbles to read the unexpected, the important and the challenging.

So as I tuck into my own food this Christmas, I’ll raise a glass to everyone still carrying the torch for the journalism that really makes a difference.

To all regional journalists everywhere, I salute you, and wish you the very best Christmas possible.

Why I’m happy my licence fee is being spent on extra newspaper reporters

There are times when the jobs pages of the regional journalism website Hold the Front Page can be a bit of a desert.

Not this week.

Across the country there are well over 100 jobs on offer – a veritable Christmas feast of vacancies unprecedented in recent years.

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It would be lovely to report that the shareholders of Trinity Mirror and Johnson Press, along with the American owners of Newsquest, had had a blinding flash of inspiration and decided to reverse years of cuts in Britain’s regional journalism firepower.

But that’s not what’s led to this jobs bonanza. This Christmas present has come from the BBC: in other words, from you and I.

The idea of the BBC spending £8 million of licence-payers’ money on the salaries of reporters who will work for commercial media companies has been controversial.

Why should the BBC prop up private sector firms that have presided over the closure of titles and offices, and the removal of rafts of editors, subs and even reporters?

It’s a reasonable question to ask. But we are where we are, and it is what it is, as all our mothers used to say.

We have a shareholder or venture capital model which is on the ropes, we have audiences whose attachments to their communities can be fragile, and we have a media landscape where there is more competition for people’s time than ever before.

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And, importantly, the 150 reporters based in newsrooms from Teesside to Truro will not just be serving those companies’ titles and websites with stories from councils, courts and the NHS, but will also be providing content for the Beeb – and for other local news websites including some hyperlocals.

And never has the work of holding power to account been more necessary.

This week has brought a reminder of the tragedy that shames this whole nation, but which poses particularly awkward questions for regional journalism.

The opening of the public inquiry and the memorial service for the victims of Grenfell Tower are a stark jolt to all of us.Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 11.06.14

This happened on our watch, on journalism’s watch.

The warning signs were there: in blogs that weren’t read, detailed council documents that weren’t analysed, and people who weren’t listened to.

That lack of coverage, of challenge, of curiosity, of contacts, of connections, played its part in the deaths of 71 people in an incident that should have no place in the year 2017.

But it’s a tricky business when newsroom web targets demand that each story gets at least 1,000 pairs of eyes – sometimes higher. Would some story about the variety of cladding used on a high rise tower have cleared that hurdle, and won an online audience?

There are times when that audience can appear to be our enemy rather than our ally. When – as my friends in Gloucestershire have seen – attempts to explain and bring to life a planning blueprint that will affect every family in the county seem to fall on blind eyes and deaf ears online.

And yet, there are beacons of hope, where journalists seem to have found that powerful sweet spot where public service journalism that makes a difference overlaps with storytelling that hits web targets.

I think of my friends at the Bristol Post, where great stories about individuals caught up in the nightmare of homelessness, and the recent gut-wrenching tragedy of the suicide of a girl from the city have captured hearts, minds and eyeballs.

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As the editor of one of its sister websites, Devon Live boss Patrick Phelvin so rightly said: “If it comes from the heart and is interesting then generally there’s an audience for it.”

I also look admiringly at the work of Sam Petherick at my old paper, The Bath Chronicle, who was shortlisted for a national award for his stories about overpaid vice-chancellor Professor Glynis Breakwell.

And once again I pay homage to one of the greatest journalists working in the regional media today, Manchester Evening News social affairs editor Jennifer Williams, whose coverage of issues from homelessness to hospitals and drugs to development always strengthens my belief that journalism can be a massive force for good in society.

 

All of these journalistic heroes are pursuing new stories, cooking up new dishes rather than reheating tired soufflés. As blogger Adam Tinworth so rightly said recently, in many ways there is too much journalism.

He wasn’t, we should stress, talking about truly local journalism: the coverage, challenge and storytelling that comes from working a patch or a specialism. That’s a skill that I try to put at the heart of everything that I teach, and I was hugely encouraged to hear an editor friend say she was bringing back patches at her papers the other day.

Of all those Cs I listed above, it is perhaps curiosity that is the most important. We spent an afternoon this week interviewing prospective students for our course and it was a joy to hear one say: ‘I want to know why things happen.’

As Guardian editor Kath Viner recently said, journalists shouldn’t just be asking the questions that everyone is asking – they should also pose the ones that no one else is voicing. That’s the key.

So I’m hugely cheered by the BBC investment, as well as by other initiatives where organisations making money out of other people’s journalism are beginning to give something back.

There are great things going on at Google, with its Newslabs work, and its recent funding of a string of regional journalism projects, including one to make court coverage more useful.

Initiatives from PA’s robot data journalism trials to the inspiring Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Local Bureau work  should also give us hope.

That surfeit of journalism that Adam was talking about isn’t at grassroots level.

And so what we need to ensure is that the BBC investment doubles down on the regional coverage of what goes on in the corridors of power around the nation.

These 150 foot soldiers in the battle to hold power to account need to complement what’s already happening, not allow existing political reporters to be shunted into other work.

We need more eyes, ears and noses to be stuck into unwanted places.

There’s a mantra I’ve been sharing in teaching sessions, at open days, in TV interviews, at interview days, and on outreach visits. I’ve undoubtedly said it here before, too.

But it can’t be repeated enough times.

If we get journalism right, we stop Grenfell Towers from happening in the future.

Get it wrong, and that sort of tragedy happens time and time again.

Main picture: Christine Matthews

Why a journalism degree is a Swiss Army knife for life

The gowns were hot – and not in a good way, my tie was all over the shop, and there was a lot of clapping to be done.
But it was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of our university graduation day last week.
We swelled with pride to see young people who we’d helped through academic and personal challenges take to the stage with their mortar board-clad heads held high.

 

But what does the journalism degree they now possess mean?
At a time when every week brings new stories of journalists’ jobs being lost, is that ornate scroll with a £27,000-plus price tag still worth having?
I would say this wouldn’t I, but to me the answer is a resounding yes.
I’m helping some of our third years polish their CVs at the moment, and the process has helped remind me and them just how many skills they will have when they too check out of our care.
Video-shooting and editing, InDesign and Photoshop, writing to deadline, presenting to camera, radio scripting, social media and SEO techniques, and project management will combine with awareness of the law, politics, public relations and the latest industry trends to create a potent cocktail mix of confidence, character and competence.
When journalists move into other sectors they soon realise what valuable and transferable skills they have – even if it’s just the ability to work fast and push the boundaries of tasteful humour.
And it’s the same for journalism students.
We know that more of our graduates are likely to end up working in PR, marketing and social media roles than as traditional journalists.
But their qualification, the crucial soft skills that we have hopefully encouraged in them, and connections they have made on work placements and news days should give them a powerful degree of choice.
Those news days test planning and leadership, stamina and sensitivity, and creativity and judgement.
The day after graduation, I was at the NCTJ’s annual skills conference, hearing from industry figures and discussing how to give our students the best start in life.
I took part in a surprisingly fascinating session on business reporting – a slightly niche area with huge jobs potential.
A senior journalist at the FT talked about how he got into the industry many years ago, and confessed: “I wouldn’t get my job now.”
There was much nodding from all of us.
It underlined to me the comments made by Sky News boss John Ryley at the conference, ridiculing the idea that there was ever a golden era of journalism.
As I have said many times before, today’s journalists are better skilled and harder working than the vast majority of their predecessors.

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To me, a journalism degree – provided it is accompanied by a rigorous work placement track record and a positive attitude – is like a Swiss Army knife.
It’s a great toolkit for life.
You never quite know when you’re going to need each bit – but it’s a very useful thing to have in your back pocket.

Why the criminal justice system needs to court media coverage

Margaret Thatcher was in her prime, the internet wasn’t even a gleam in someone’s eye, and there were just four TV channels.

That was life in 1985, when I started my first journalism job.

The world has changed in a million ways since then.

And yet some things stay exactly the same.

Like this country’s courts.

I’ve spent several hours in them with some of our students in the last couple of weeks.

It’s not always the most uplifting experience. We decided the décor in the magistrates court waiting room might have been Miserable Green on some long-forgotten Dulux colour card from the Thatcher era.

The signs on the wall weren’t much younger, or much more attractive.

And within around ten minutes of proceedings getting under way in court one, the word shambles had dropped easily from my lips.

The magistrates came out, we all stood to attention as if they were minor royalty, and a few minutes later, they disappeared again, having presided over the square root of nothing at all.

After around a hour and a half, we emerged with one half-decent story.

But we’d sat through delays, inactivity and an extraordinarily protracted debate over how much one particularly assertive defendant owed in fines.

It reminded me of why – as a frustrated news editor in Bath – I was so regularly exasperated by the ease with which spanners could be thrown in the criminal justice system’s works. I would lose a reporter for an entire day when promising cases were knocked off course by non-appearing witnesses, lost paperwork, or the vagaries of judges’ rotas. Come the revolution, I used to say, wasting press time would be a serious offence.

If you want to see joyless, pointless officialdom in action, this is the place to be. A student from another course who took out a water bottle in one of the many breaks from proceedings was very firmly told this was not on, as such items were classed as potential weapons.

There are attempts to improve efficiency, such as the idea of trial by single justice on the papers where minor guilty pleas are dealt with effectively in private by a lone magistrate.

But – as with proposals that could see the press relegated to watching through a viewing booth – these can end up in conflict with the precious principle of open justice.

 

And, perhaps more importantly, they will take that justice further away from the public. In Gloucestershire, the court we visited in Cheltenham is now the only magistrates court in the county. In Wiltshire, where I live, there will soon be only one magistrates court outside the separate borough of Swindon.

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The closure of courts doesn’t just put more miles between a population and the place where justice is done in its name; it also makes it even more difficult for journalists to cover the criminal justice system in action.

A recent survey showed how little of that coverage currently goes on.

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There are pockets of great practice – my friend Laura Linham in Somerset, Geoff Bennett in Bristol, and initiatives like Ben Falconer’s live blog of a day at Cheltenham Mags, which became the best-read article on his website that day.

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There is a virtuous circle created when coverage is good. Regular reporters who take the trouble to oil the wheels of diplomacy with security guards, ushers and lawyers generally get treated well.

But the occasional visitor can feel like an inconvenience at best.

Which is a shame. We need light to be shone in the sometimes dark corners of the court system. All human life is there, for a start – with engaging stories at every turn.

But human suffering, misery and despair are also ever-present.

It’s important that we’re reminded of that, and that there is both accountability and transparency in the way the criminal justice system operates.

One glimmer of hope is the BBC’s partnership with local media which will see the appointment of 150 new reporters to cover courts and councils up and down the land.

The gaps in existing coverage were highlighted in a video made by Professor Richard Sambrook, a former BBC news chief who now heads the Cardiff School of Journalism, for the 60th anniversary of BBC Points West.

At the stimulating debate at which it was shown, a councillor from Gloucester bemoaned the lack of press coverage of his authority’s meetings.

I may be wrong, but it seems rare that anyone involved in the legal and criminal justice system expresses such concern over court coverage.

I’d like to see a national week of wall-to-wall court coverage, where reporters pour into magistrates and crown courts up and down the land, writing stories, launching live blogs, challenging officials and the judiciary, and generally shining a light into dusty, fusty corners.

Our second visit to Cheltenham Magistrates was a little more fruitful, with that conveyor belt of cases moving more rapidly.

And later in the week, we were given a virtually VIP welcome at Gloucester Crown Court, where the décor is stately rather than state school circa 1978, and where the ceremony and costume seem to elevate proceedings in the right direction.

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Gloucester Crown Court: Wikimedia Commons

The judge cleared the court, took off his wig and spent a good 20 minutes explaining that morning’s events and answering questions.

It offered a brief glimpse into the possibility of a more open and engaging relationship between courts and the outside world.

There are no votes in doing up our court buildings or in education programmes about the workings of justice.

But turning the arenas where justice is dispensed into places of hope and transparency rather than dark despair might just make a difference.

And the media should be welcomed on board that process.

Main picture caption: Cheltenham Magistrates Court Credit: Jaggery