Sunday, 14 February 2010

New media, old media: Captain Ahab gets noticed

As a regular reader of Captain Ahab's Watery Tales, I was particularly pleased to see him recognised and interviewed by the Express & Star newspaper.

However, it did strike me as odd that a local newspaper would consider it news to report on someone who is reporting on the local area. Isn't that what one would expect a local newspaper to do?

To be fair, the Express & Star has quite good coverage of local history, but still it is remarkably difficult to get historical information on the industrial archaeology of an area from the local newspapers. The mainstream print and broadcast media is ever less interested in its educational role and concentrates on the much more lucrative entertainment role, but at what cost to local communities? Is there a social responsibility (Just Google it if you aren't sure, Mr Murdoch) of media? If they are prepared to steer readers towards statements or positions on the political agenda, then why not on the socio-cultural agenda?

Local newspapers should - maybe even must - inform and educate people about their surroundings, whether natural, cultural or historical. They do have more than simply a reactive responsibility to report what happened yesterday.

In the meantime, congratulations to Captain Ahab for showing a local newspaper how one can and should record and report on old canals and industry.

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