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EDITOR'S BLOG: Post-Leveson grumbles

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WITHOUT resorting to Blair-style hand of history soundbytes, we write the paper for you - our readers.
If you don't want to consume our products, we wouldn't have jobs and the Croydon Advertiser would be no more. Simple as that really.
You're the judge and jury and, if you don't like something, you have every right to tell us - either directly to the newsdesk or via the Press Complaints Commission (God rest its soul).
But, in this post-Leveson world, editors are noticing a change; an increase in what you might call spurious, try-your-luck grumbles. The bloke from Four Weddings and a Funeral says I shouldn't stand for this, so I won't.
In recent times, therefore, our stable of papers in Croydon and beyond have had to contend with (in no particular order) 
  •  A prominent sporting figure refusing to speak to a specific reporter because they "don't like them"
  •  A prominent politician refusing to speak to a specific reporter because they "don't like them"
  •  A convicted paedophile complaining to the PCC because we'd referred to him in an article as, er, a paedophile
  •  A man accused of beating a woman complaining to the PCC because we'd said he was, er, a man accused of beating a woman
  •  An organisation pressing us to sign a non-disclosure agreement, to state that we wouldn't write certain things about a certain subject (I'm being deliberately vague here, in the spirit of non-disclosure)

My big worry is that, pretty soon, we'll all be signing non-disclosure agreements. That even writing a standard 'dog bites man' nib will become almost impossible, without getting copy approval from the victim and - quite possibly - the dog too.
A lot has been said in recent weeks about the Leveson report and its fall-out, but not enough has been focused on its potential impacts for local newspapers.
We are here to challenge, to inform, to hold authorities to account. We provide checks and balances. 
Local papers, at their best, should be a force for good and change; they should polarise and not be afraid to set the agenda. In effect, they should be the regulator - not the regulated.
I'm not saying publish and be damned - far from it. We take great care, every time we publish an article, to ensure it is something our readers will be interested in and that due care, attention and sensitivity is paid to the words going on the page or web document. 
But this doesn't mean playing it safe. We're not the council newsletter. 
I got into local papers because they excited me. All human life is here; its joys, its sadnesses, its highs, its lows - a microcsm of communities and societies. And they get things done, they really do. Just look at Lillian's Law, for one.
Whatever you may think of the Croydon Advertiser, I hope most of you would agree we are at least bold. We take risks, we challenge and pose questions of the sort daft contracts and copy agreements wouldn't permit us. And long may this continue.
Anodyne, bland, pre-agreed Pravda puff?
No thanks.

EDITOR'S BLOG: Post-Leveson grumbles


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