Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Update on Patricia Hewitt exclusive

While writing the bit below on Ms Hewitt's decision to stand down at the next general election, I wrote to her asking why she came to the Mercury, rather than go to a wider audience through the national press. Here's her response:
"Happy to help with the blog! It's the people of Leicester West who elect me and pay for me, so I had to make my announcement directly to them, rather than just using the national media. I have always felt lucky to have a strong local newspaper like the Leicester Mercury that really campaigns on local issues - so there really was only one choice about how to make my news public."
Ok, there will be those that say that I was looking for a cheap compliment for the Mercury and that the response is a bit sickly - but that wasn't what I was doing, I was just trying to avoid putting words into Ms Hewitt's mouth even though I was fairly sure I knew what the answer would be. While Ms Hewitt's response may be instinctive, or even political, we have plenty of research to show that what differentiates our newspaper from other media around about us is that we are trustworthy, traditional and, most of all, local.

We may be slow in comparison with much of the digital media that we all consume nowadays, but actually slow is not always bad. Note for example the growing 'slow-food' campaign or 'slowdown' - our newspaper habits give us time to look a little more carefully at the stories in front of us. Our reporter spent the best part of an hour speaking to Ms Hewitt yesterday and then plenty more time putting the articles together - he was then helped by our policital correspondent, Martin Robinson, the newsdesk and variuos production people to finish off his work.

So, while the digital response is rapid, much of what was discussed this morning referenced back to the work that we put in yesterday and it was our work that ensured that the conversation that went on was at least based on fact. Even the online versions of the national papers pointed back to us as the original source.

We seek to combine this with our presence online - our exclusive this morning was available on thisisleicestershire long before it was picked up elsewhere and we have used my blog and twitter to look for reaction to help inform tomorrow's article on reaction to Ms Hewitt's decision. It is a difficult balance, but we are looking to combine the best of the old with the best of the new ...

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