The portrayal of journalism, journalists and local newspapers on TV is – usually – nothing short of embarrassing and insulting.
Journalists doing anything – legal and illegal – for a story; newspaper front pages with ill-fitting, misspelt headlines.
Broadchurch changed all that on Monday night with an impassioned plea for the future of local press in the communities that need it most.
When Broadchurch Echo editor Maggie Radcliffe, played by actress Carolyn Pickles, is summoned to ‘central HQ’ – probably a non-descript box on an industrial estate – she is told the local office in the fictional town is closing and she is being moved.
Maggie goes in all guns blazing, complaining how she has been left alone to run the paper after her own after her only reporter had quit for a new job and that the town needed the paper she had worked on all her life.
Maggie also had her front page story about planning permission being granted for new homes replaced by her boos, who splashed on the rescue of some kittens.
What followed – superbly and accurately scripted – could have been a press release from any major publisher about the restructuring of a regional newspaper company – we need to save money, no one is buying the paper etc etc.
The plan was also to used ‘more shared content from across the region’.
We’ve all heard it. Some of us many times, while publicly trying to get on with producing papers on a fraction of the resources.
Press Gazette summed it up: “A superbly-scripted clash of perspectives then ensued with Maggie arguing the historical importance of the Echo while her boss delivered a crushing case for cuts.
“If the Broadchurch Echo was so important to local people, the executive said, more of them should have bought it.”
Well done to the writers of Broadchurch for accurately portraying the realities of life on a local newspaper.