Carol 'number-crunching' retro style!

Now I’m über ‘queasy’.

If I even get a whiff of a paper cut I’m off.

Flicking past Holby City, Children’s Hospital and Bear Grylls with a lightning reaction that Jackie Chan would be proud of is something I’m toying with the idea of exploiting financially when the student loan gets a bit low…

Therefore, you can imagine my relief when the ‘dissection’ involved in my first task as an ‘Assistant Journalist’ for Help Me Investigate.com involved more ‘brains’ than ‘blood’.

And we’re off…

I was encouraged by ‘Head Investigator’ Paul Bradshaw to explore the site initially to find my feet in the unruly waters of the ‘investigative journalist’.

The site was easy to navigate, and soon I’d mentally bookmarked a whole host of possible avenues of investigation that i felt i could lend my ‘acquired skills’ (at £4000 per annum) to.

The first topic that caught my fickle attention was an investigation headed by Sarah Hartley.

The question she had put forward was: “How much local council coverage is there in your local newspaper?”

I felt that this was a really interesting topic of discussion, as an avid reader (and contributor) of my own local paper, I had never really noticed a ‘lack of council coverage’.

This question got me wandering, and so I signed up on to her spreadsheet to say that I was going to dissect ‘The Cannock Chase Post‘.

Using the ‘crude’ method in which she encouraged her fellow investigators to tally up the scores, I set about this week’s edition…

Results

Total number of published pages: 54

Number of pages deducted (areas where you couldn’t realistically expect local authority coverage i.e. advertising, features, sport, specialist sections such as business or farming.): 35 (due to high amount of advertising as this is how the paper is financed largely!)

Available pages for Council news: 19

Score given based on system provided: 4.5

Overall percentage of coverage: 23.68%

I entered my findings into the spreadsheet and will continue to aid in the investigation until a have provided at least 8 or so editions.

Phew!

Now that’s re-jigged a few long-forgotten maths lessons back in High School…

Now just hold on a cotton-picking minute!

I was just about ready to take the bullet for my local ‘rag’, but after having crunched the credentials, it appears that this week’s particular issue sports quite a high count of the ‘hard stuff’. i.e council coverage.

Having worked at the paper myself on a number of occasions, it is easy for me to pinpoint many of the reasons as to ‘why’ a higher count of council news is not available in today’s local papers.

1) No one wants to read mundane articles about the council if they aren’t ‘blowing up’ some treasured block of flats or are hiking up the council tax. And until anything ‘newsworthy’ happens, a paper wont touch it.

2) Now you’ve heard about how long it took officials to eventually lock up Ronnie Biggs. Now throw in Potter’s ‘cloak of invisibility’, and you’ve got an MP. They’re harder to track down than gold dust! And have a tendency to disappear off the face of the earth about an hour before deadline when you’re trying to squeeze just one solitary sentence from them.

3) The ‘readership’ (especially round my neck of the woods!) has long since adopted the view of ‘I’ll believe it when i see it’, and so no matter how much the Council may protest they are going to erect a speed camera down a road frequented by gang of prepubescent lads who fancy their chances at being the next Jeremy Clarkson, their constituency just doesn’t want to know.

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