AS the heartfelt messages on this website show and the YouTube clip of Wednesday’s procession through Enfield conveys, there are a lot of people out there who still believe that having a medium to amplify and project the voice of people in their neighbourhood is essential to enable that community to thrive and survive.
But what should that medium be?
Of course the proliferation of the internet has enabled many voices to be sounded, all clambering for attention, and a coveted spot in the Google ranking.
A mass of data is available within a few clicks of a mouse. A myriad of opinions masquerading as facts, half-truths and rumours paraded as certainties. But who do you believe? What assurance can you have that what you are reading has any credibility whatsoever?
Local newspapers such as the titles produced at our office, enable the reader to turn the pages either of their printed copy, or the online version, knowing that care and attention have gone into checking and rechecking the facts. They can be assured that as many voices as possible have been listened to before being grouped together, under one headline, one banner to produce an article, or a series of articles which may create a spark of interest for a discussion, a catalyst for change perhaps.
Wave after wave of opinions flood the internet. Individuals, unknown, unidentifiable, shout to be heard before another wave crashes over their heads, drowning their voices, their opportunity to influence others through the power of their words, lost.
But local newspapers ensure that voices still have a chance to be heard. We do this by listening, by asking questions, wherever possible, face-to-face.
Our reporters and photographers are our ears and eyes, describing what they have heard and seen through their words and photos. Our sub-editors shape the pages, the first set of eyes to scan, to question, to listen in their own heads to what is being relayed through the article. And finally, to our editor, another level of scrutiny, another counter-balance in the quality control process is carried out.
To use a well-worn cliché, it’s not rocket science, but it relies on having a team of people who take consummate pride in what they do. However, it cannot survive on pride alone.
We have been pushed beyond our tipping point.
When our request for one temporary reporter to a team that has halved in number in the three years I have been at the newspaper was dismissed, more it seems out of pure defiance than sense, we realised that one person who clearly was no longer listening was Sir Ray.
While he might be keeping the names of our papers alive, the spirit in which they are being produced is dying. He is allowing the content of them to be diminished through non-replacement of staff.
It just doesn’t make any sense to be pursuing a policy of wanton neglect for the quality of the product you are producing.
Or in words which will certainly be familiar to Sir Ray, spoken as they were by Winston Churchill, referring to Russia’s next move during World War II: “It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
It’s your move Sir Ray Tindle.