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Readers' Editor: Newspapers happy to be moving with the TV times

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Newspapers have come to realise that television is part of the fabric of a nation and needs to be covered

Newspapers have come to realise that television is part of the fabric of a nation and needs to be covered

Daniel Law

Newspapers have come to realise that television is part of the fabric of a nation and needs to be covered

Newspapers have a funny old relationship with TV. Can't live with it, can't live without it — or something like that anyway.

Journalistically, what telly does in brief, we can do in depth.

If TV is impartial, or is supposed to be, anyway; we are free to take sides if we want. We can do local, while it needs to operate at regional level.

The golden rule of TV news dictates that, if there are no moving pictures, the thing loses a significant amount of currency: while newspapers know that just because a video camera isn't present doesn't make an incident un-newsworthy: the written word and the still photo can be powerful tools.

Newspaper editors also recognize that TV ‘personalities' can be newsworthy in their own right, so they often write stories about them.

It wasn't always so.

There was a time when newspapers tried to ignore the electronic media.

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Editors even refused to publish TV and radio listings because they perceived them to be a threat to circulation - that's why the Radio Times was founded back in 1929.

Things have changed: editors now know TV is part of the fabric of a nation and needs to be covered.

TV listings are now seen as an essential reader service. The Belfast Telegraph publishes a four-page daily guide and a seven-day guide on Saturday.

The point of all this is that readers greatly value their TV pages, even in these days of on-screen channel guides.

They are simple and easy to use and, when done best, reflect the paper’s - and readers’ - values and prejudices.

Some readers were naturally upset, then, when we published the wrong TV listings in an edition last Thursday.

Brendan Magennis, for example, got in touch to say the blunder was ‘irksome’.

Hands up; it was caused by human error.

You don't need to know the technical details, but a mechanism has been put in place which, hopefully, will prevent it happening again.

The new arrangement should purge the old TV pages within 24 hours, which will, in theory, prevent them getting into the production process.

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On another issue, Joris Minne got up a few noses in his Restaurant Review column last week with a jokey reference to one course being over-cooked ‘on the scale of Chernobyl’.

A rather cross missive was published on the Letters Page, expressing distaste at his choice of metaphor, which to me was an appropriate response to bring the matter to a close.

BTreaderseditor@gmail.com


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