When the late, great Tony Wilson and I used to debate the merits or otherwise of Liverpool and Manchester, the enigmatic TV presenter and broadcaster used to say that the biggest problem with Scousers was our wonderful ability to celebrate bad news.
He contended that if Jaguar announced a programme that created 1,000 jobs for Liverpudlians on the same day as a Granny was mugged in Old Swan, the mugging story would be on the front page of the Echo, and the good news story buried on page 4. The Manchester Evening News would do the exact opposite. Tony often added “You can’t complain if the press you get nationally is so bad, when locally its worse’.
Thursday’s Liverpool Daily Post (LDP) reminded me of Tony’s words – and sadly not for the first time confirmed him to be right.
The front page headline screamed ‘PEEL CALLS A HALT ON £3.5BN MERSEY BARRAGE PLAN’. The report went on to explain that Peel Energy has – for now- put on hold an ambitious scheme to build a tidal barrage across the Mersey estuary to generate renewable electricity.
On page 4, and almost lost underneath a continuation of this bad news story, the LDP made mention of Joe Anderson’s reveal at a Downtown Liverpool event during Business Week on Tuesday that the Cruise Liner terminal is more than likely to happen.
This development will be of huge benefit to the city, create wealth, jobs and opportunities for growth, and delivers a key component of the city’s economic strategy. So why did the LDP give precedence to the negative over the positive?
If that wasn’t enough, on the Wednesday Downtown hosted another event where a leading international expert in enterprise and entrepreneurship, Jonathan Ortmans, extolled the many virtues of our city, and explained why the Global Entrepreneurship Congress was coming to Liverpool in 2012. His comments did not even merit a mention by the LDP on Thursday.
Is it that, as all good editors and journalists have to do, they are feeding into what their Scouse readers want? Or has the city moved on and the local media failed to recognise the fact?
I, like many of us in this city, are proud that we still boast two daily newspapers. However, print media is in decline, and we often hear that the LDP is struggling circulation wise more than most. Could it be that the ‘old’ Liverpool way of celebrating bad news is being replaced with a more modern, optimistic outlook that simply fails to appreciate a media that all too often appears willing to overlook the good news to tell us the bad?
I’m not in the newspaper industry, and no doubt the LDP would be able to argue that my comments are far too generalised and inaccurate. But, if perception is everything, then they should know that the image of local newspapers in this city at the moment is that they are far too eager to promote knocking copy and that is not good news for Liverpool.