Roy Greenslade is sometimes right on the money when analysing media matters. However, he was way off target yesterday in his contention that local papers are increasingly holding their MPs to account over their expenses (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2009/jun/04/mps-expenses-local-newspapers ).
Aside from the occasional piece by David Bartlett on his Dale Street Blues blog (http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/dalestreetblues/ ), the Oldham Echo has been strikingly reticent to confront local MPs over their expenses. There's been the odd, outraged, tabloidesque editorial on the matter, but it's been scattergun in nature, not focused on particular local miscreants.
True, there are some local papers which have spoken out, to their credit. Indeed, on a local note, Greenslade observes:
"A commenter to my earlier blog posting (Zeds) also pointed to the Wirral Globe (a Newsquest free weekly) for its tough response to revelations about Wirral South MP Ben Chapman. He had flatly refused to talk to the paper and has now decided to stand down."
However, Greenslade's central point that local papers are suddenly showing some journalistic gumption is somewhat undermined by his ownreference to the coverage given by the Manchester Evening News to Hazel Blears' resignation from the cabinet (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1118830_blears_ill_stay_on_as_mp ). Its senior reporter is quoted as saying:
"Hazel [Blears] is smart enough to know that the Manchester Evening News would be a good bet to get her views across at a local level."
A good bet? What's that got to do with journalism?