Sunday 12 June 2011

Laura Local: our favourite new tier-3 provincial journalist

We feel really sorry for the Bristol Evening Post. Most of the real journalists have moved on, leaving only a few people who are actually valued for their knowledge of the area and their willingness to type what senior management want them to write (Ian Onion), and, to replace the others, some unpaid interns trying to learn how to write HTML content to put local journalism as an item on their resume.

In the latter category, then, can we welcome Laura Local, who is now our favourite third-tier reporter for the Redland People subsidiary web site of the Evening Post. We think "redland people" is a bit overambitious, as it implies all the residents check it every morning saying "what's happened in our part of the city?", but that doesn't happen. Nothing much happens there except when some drunk students put some traffic cones on some cars, or the helicopter over stokes croft keeps people awake. Even then, reading about in the Redland People site isn't the way most people discuss some items. In fact, given their readership count, we believe the site would be called "Redland Eight People"; the eight being friends and family of the authors.

Laura, we are pleased to see, is trying hard to get the audience into double digits by printing an anti-cyclist rant. We do that ourselves, which is why our daily audience is in the high double digits, and we can see why a commercial site that tries to make money through advertising revenue would aspire to be as successful. Hence this lovely article, Redland cyclists among the worst in the Bristol? Here's the opening paragraph
I was turning right out of North Road by the Arches when a cyclist, who wasn't wearing a helmet I hasten to add, whizzed by in the middle of the road heading the direction I wanted to go - towards Gloucester Road. I pulled out behind him, as I would have done had he been a car and he stopped in front of me all of a sudden and started mouthing off before jumping the red light.

Maybe I was a little too close to him when I pulled out but I felt any criticism was rich coming from a guy who was bombing down the centre of the road without a helmet and straight through a red light!
We aren't going to defend the tax-dodger, but we will provide some constructive feedback to the author
  1. It's not actually a legal requirement to wear a helmet. The only time you should criticise them for not wearing a helmet is when someone gets run over by an HGV driver on the phone, then you can say in the daily mail comments section "were they wearing a helmet" and so absolve the whole of society for their death. We do.
  2. It's not illegal to cycle down the middle of a lane. Yes, it annoys us as it stops us driving above 25 mph, but for the troublemakers, it gives them more options avoiding being hit by redland residents who are too lazy to drive to the gloucester road shops, and who open their doors without looking or pull out without indicating.
  3. If you were the first vehicle to pull out, and you were parked in the ASL under the arch itself, the cyclist may have crossed the traffic light while it was still green, then if you pulled out aggressively he may have had some reason to express concern.
  4. Don't ever admit in print something like "Maybe I was a little too close to him when I pulled out." It removes your ability to take the moral high ground. We never discuss our own driving actions for this reason, or make videos from our van -the police might want them.
  5. Gloucester Road isn't Redland. It's Bishopston, on one side, St Andrews on the other. When when it becomes Cheltenham Road it's called "the arches" until you end up on the disputed Cotham/Montpelier/Stokes Croft region where the new Tesco is. Not Redland. If you have to drive outside your own reporting area just to get content to rant about, well, that may show some weaknesses in the "Redland cyclists amongst the worst in Bristol" story. We recommend spending some time in Cotham Hill, which, while again not quite Redland, is full of pedestrians, cyclists, school-run parents and us vans, so creating a lovely mix for new articles, such as "Redland Van drivers amongst the worst in Bristol?", "Redland students amongst the worst pedestrians in Bristol", and of course "Redland school-run parents amongst the worst in Bristol". Together this will keep your article quota fulfilled for a month with only one morning's worth of research. Or you could walk along Chandos Road and have a geographically correct region for the "Redland parkers amongst the worst in Bristol" article.
  6. Do try and back up your articles with photos other than faded bike path signs that may convince everyone, motorist and cyclists alike, that Bristol's cycling facilities are dire.
  7. If you do want to get a video of someone cycling through the red lights on that stretch of Gloucester Road, stand there with a camera on a weekday evening and wait for one lights cycle: it's not hard.
Anyway, Laura -welcome to the tier-3 anti cycling rant pages of Bristol. Those of us already in the business welcome new competitors, as it keeps us on our toes. Just try a bit harder and we might even feel slightly threatened.


Quercus said...

Could this actually be Kayla Maratty? Picked up by the EP after being released to the industry by Bristol 24-7?

between-the-lines said...

"Nothing much happens there except when some drunk students put some traffic cones on some cars, or the helicopter over stokes croft keeps people awake."

But that's the sort of terrible thing that really gets them going in Redland. That and dog poo.

The Bristol Blogger said...

It's a common misconception that Ian Onions actually writes things.

He's far too lazy for that.

He actually just sends written material he receives from the council's Head of PR, Peter Holt, to print.

Mr P. Edant said...

Is this the same "local" reporter convinced that St Andrews Park is Redland?