South Leeds Life has made a couple of minor errors this week. The first was mine. I wrote up our public meeting about Stank Hall Barn and said it was on 21st February. It’s not, its on 28th. I corrected myself in the comments section.
Now I could legitimately say that we set the meeting for 21st and then we had to move it to 28th. The only trouble is that we moved it to 28th before I sat down and wrote the post. In my defence someone else (no names, no pack drill) put the event on our Events Calendar on the wrong day. I managed to confuse myself moving it to a Thursday … I’ll stop digging …
One of my colleagues Steve, also had a bit of a rant in a piece about traffic planning. He’s entitled to his opinion, but ideally he would have made it clear that he was expressing his personal opinion and not South Leeds Life’s.
I hope I’ve made it clear over the last few months that the opinions in South of the River are mine rather than South Leeds Life’s?
Why am I telling you all this? Why am I washing the blog’s (not very) dirty laundry in public?
This is the year of the Leveson Inquiry, when it became clear just how corrupt some parts of the press are. As my son pointed out: it’s not just a few bad apples when the news announces the 58th person to be charged as part of Operation Elvedon.
South Leeds Life is just a little news blog for a corner of our city. Our writers are all amateur journalists, but we have set ourselves high standards. We want to be fair and transparent. We also want to let the people of our communities speak in their own voices. So transparency is important, it’s about being clear when a post is “opinion” and when we are reporting a story “objectively”.
We don’t really have the resources to research a story fully, but we are getting better at including more than one view in a story. We also encourage comments from our readers and not just from those that agree with the point of view expressed in the post. We positively welcome criticism, it’s how we get debate going. And debate helps to clarify an issue – just read the comments on Steve’s piece.
The blog is developing in other ways too and we are aware that we need finance to develop further. To keep the website functioning to its potential, to run training to get more community reporters writing for us and to promote the blog to people who still haven’t heard of us.
The question is who to turn to for money? All money comes with strings. We’ve all heard the stories of newspaper editors pulling good stories because a big advertiser has said they would pull adverts if the story came out.
We are increasingly hearing of charities who feel they are signing up to gagging orders when they get a contract to deliver a public sector contract. I was interested to hear a spokesman from the RNLI last year. RNLI run the lifeboats around our coast, but they don’t receive any help from government. Why? Because they won’t take government money. That way, the spokesman explained, the Government can’t dictate how services are provided, or cut.
We’ve decided to go for both the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. We will start taking advertising in month or two. We have already secured two Community First grants to run Community Reporter training courses. We sincerely hope that neither funder will lead us to change our editorial policy. If you think you spot us pulling our punches please make a comment, I promise we’ll publish it.
I’ll be back next week with more views from South of The River.