When it isn't glamourising the antics of hooded scallies in areas like Kirkdale & Bootle, drooling lasciviously over the money made by local drug dealers, breathlessly relating the comings & goings of Z-list local celebrities , failing to ask the right questions about the city's two football clubs, or running nostalgia pieces on Merseybeat (it's 50 years since Love Me Do, did you know that?), the Oldham Echo is encouraging us to be proud that we're Scousers.
At least once a year the Echo doesn't so much scrape the bottom of the barrel as serve up the wooden fragments that once formed it. So it's nice to welcome back that old favourite from Oldham Hall Street (drumroll; adopts exaggerated Liverpool accent), what makes you proud to be Scouse (la!) (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/in-the-mix/2012/09/04/tell-us-what-makes-you-proud-to-be-a-scouser-100252-31759353/ ).
So who's penned this latest paean of praise to all things Scouse? Why it's our old friend Paddy Shennan (hello, Paddy!). Sit back & peruse this effusive epistle from one of Big Al Machray's more reliable minions:
"It has often been said that Liverpool is a city in England, but not of it -- that the Republic of Liverpool has a special identity and a character that distinguishes it from the rest of the country.
"Dr Samuel Johnson famously said: 'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford' -- but he clearly meant Liverpool."
We're all indebted to Paddy for providing us with this amazing historical revelation.
It gets worse. Well, it has to, doesn't it? I mean, we are talking about the Oldham Echo here.
Paddy recites a litany of all the obvious topics (football, Beatles, Grand National, etc.). That said, he does allow himself a jocular reference to the mutilation of the waterfront (a potentially heretical offence on Oldham Hall Street).
On the subject of which, Paddy later writes:
"Landmark Liverpool locations and buildings -- where would you start? What is your favourite building? What is the one place, above all others, that makes your heart swell with pride?"
Paddy goes on to summarise in a single paragraph some of the more overlooked & neglected aspects of local history. Aside from that, however, the tone is populist, predictable & puerile.
Such "journalism" has long been accepted as the norm on Oldham Hall Street, of course. Additionally, the standard of reporting on that sorry rag is set to deteriorate even further, as Seven Streets noted recently (http://www.sevenstreets.com/talk-and-opinion/here-isnt-the-news-trinity-mirror-multimedia-journalis/ ). Hold The Front Page & Roy Greenslade in his Guardian media blog have also picked up on the story (http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2012/news/regional-publisher-recruits-non-journalist-content-gatherers/ & http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2012/sep/04/trinity-mirror-local-newspapers ).
Yes, I'm afraid that "journalism", you know, the investigation & reporting of issues that really matter to local people is very much a thing of the past with Trinity Mirror's sinking ship, & it's confirmed by the latest circulation figures which show a 5.5% decline in sales for the first half of this year (http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&storycode=49929&c=1 ).
Rather than ask people what makes them proud to be Scousers, Paddy & co. would do better to ask them why the Echo's circulation figure continues to drop like a stone (here's a clue for you, Paddy, it isn't just the web). But they won't, & parochial pieces that masquerade as journalism will only hasten the Echo's decline.
22.40 UPDATE: Seven Streets highlights yet another crass Echo front page (http://www.sevenstreets.com/blog/meltdown-at-the-echo/ ).