Are press releases like these being circulated to the try and hide the negative reports?

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peters

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Knutsford Guardian said:
STYAL Railway Station car park has been given makeover as part of a £650,000 investment by Northern.

The rail operator has laid more than 12,035 square metres of tarmac – about the size of 46 tennis courts – as part of the improvement works and has given passengers a ‘Better Way to Go’.

Northern’s campaign – ‘A Better Way to Go’ - highlights the work being done by the train operator to improve its stations for passengers.

The £650,000 project was funded by Network Rail and has seen Styal Station, along with Windermere, Hyde North, Reddish North, Newton for Hyde, Disley, Dent, Castleton, Grange Over Sands and Meadowhall station car parks given a facelift.


That sounds good but as of last Monday Northern suspended all services to Styal as part of their COVID timetable, while Styal has no other public transport and Northern aren't providing any replacement buses. There isn't even a line in the article which mentions the suspension of service.


So if anyone's parking in Styal station car park, they won't be catching a train.

It's also lazy for Newsquest to not bother to update the article to have any local relevance. I don't think people in Cheshire care about car parking at Windermere or Meadowhall stations!
 
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SynthD

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The press release is accurate about its subject and local papers often make very little changes to press releases before publishing them. This time it’s in an area where you recognise something is off.
 

DarloRich

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It's also lazy for Newsquest to not bother to update the article to have any local relevance. I don't think people in Cheshire care about car parking at Windermere or Meadowhall stations!


I think people have a very confused view of how local papers operate these days.
 

flitwickbeds

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I think people have a very confused view of how local papers operate these days.
Yep. Usually a national centre of "journalists" working on dozens or hundreds or local titles, with zero local knowledge at all. If you're lucky some titles might have one or two locally-based staff able to rewrite some stuff, but most of the time they're focused on local government issues (and funded by the BBC!).
 

LNW-GW Joint

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In the bewildering history of local newspapers, the Knutsford Guardian, which was part of the once-venerable Warrington Guardian group, is ultimately owned in America and Japan.
It's one of about 200 Newsquest titles in the UK, all sharing the same newsfeeds and editorial resources.
 

Watershed

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That sounds good but as of last Monday Northern suspended all services to Styal as part of their COVID timetable, while Styal has no other public transport and Northern aren't providing any replacement buses. There isn't even a line in the article which mentions the suspension of service.


So if anyone's parking in Styal station car park, they won't be catching a train.

It's also lazy for Newsquest to not bother to update the article to have any local relevance. I don't think people in Cheshire care about car parking at Windermere or Meadowhall stations!
Aside from the issue of lazy journalism, announcing the opening of a revamped Styal car park just as all services have been dropped, without replacement, really is an own goal for the railway.
 

zwk500

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Aside from the issue of lazy journalism, announcing the opening of a revamped Styal car park just as all services have been dropped, without replacement, really is an own goal for the railway.
It's probably down to the way funding for improvements is allocated. Northern will have submitted a bid for the funding when Styal was still being served, and it is now committed to spending that money on the improvement. If they wait until trains are running again, they'll be panned for announcing something 3/6/450 months after it was done. It's not like the car park is going to disappear if it isn't used. It may even be able to provide some local service like drive-through covid testing in the meantime.
 

Horizon22

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I think people have a very confused view of how local papers operate these days.

The key part being the lack of "local" reporters for the most part!

But yes I have noticed some rather glamorised funding press releases coming out recently, including of course EWR which keeps to be seemingly re-announced with "new" funds or press releases to reopen closed lines which to the uninformed might read as though the reopening was definitely happening.
 

pdeaves

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Aside from the issue of lazy journalism, announcing the opening of a revamped Styal car park just as all services have been dropped, without replacement, really is an own goal for the railway.
I suspect left hand and right hand not knowing what each other are doing rather than any attempt to 'hide' anything. Doesn't detract from your point, of course.
 

RT4038

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Aside from the issue of lazy journalism, announcing the opening of a revamped Styal car park just as all services have been dropped, without replacement, really is an own goal for the railway.

The news about the car park makeover presents a generally positive view of the railway. Most people are not using trains at all at the moment, so the temporary suspension of service will be virtually unnoticed.
 

peters

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In the bewildering history of local newspapers, the Knutsford Guardian, which was part of the once-venerable Warrington Guardian group, is ultimately owned in America and Japan.
It's one of about 200 Newsquest titles in the UK, all sharing the same newsfeeds and editorial resources.

They launched a Wilmslow Guardian paper a few years ago but wilmslowguardian.co.uk just redirects to knutsfordguardian.co.uk, where they put a few Wilmslow stories alongside the Knutsford ones.
 

peters

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The press release is accurate about its subject and local papers often make very little changes to press releases before publishing them. This time it’s in an area where you recognise something is off.

Aside from the issue of lazy journalism, announcing the opening of a revamped Styal car park just as all services have been dropped, without replacement, really is an own goal for the railway.

There's really two issues:

1. Is it just coincidence Northern put out a press release at the same time as reduced timetables due to COVID are talking place, or do they think the reduced timetable will see local newspapers printing stories of people not being able to get to work or essential appointments so they want a positive news story? Even worse it could be a PR person at Northern doesn't realise that stations mentioned in the press release about improvements have just seen their service temporarily suspended.
2. Regardless of whether the 'journalist' is based in Wilmslow or Windsor, surely they should know that the list of stations on a North of England wide press release aren't necessarily all relevant for a local news story.

Now if the works weren't complete and Northern were saying that while the station is closed to passengers they will accelerate the speed of the works or if they were allowing anyone to use the car park while no trains are running, then it would be a different matter.
 

DarloRich

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Quite probably. Interesting comment! Could you expand upon this?

Several others have added detail but there are lots of articles on the internet about it. One is here:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...apers-decline-is-starving-communities-of-news

Guardian:
More than 80% of UK local newspapers by circulation are owned by just six companies. Most grew fat on the enormous profits that came from having an effective monopoly stranglehold on local advertising until the mid-2000s, as the only place to sell a car or advertise a local job until this began to transfer online. The majority coasted with enormous profit margins that subsidised public interest journalism, with many of the big groups racking up enormous debts through acquisition sprees and failing to invest, only to see the entire business model collapse as eyeballs – and advertising cash – switched to Facebook and Google.

Big city circulations that used to be measured in the 100,000s are now lucky to break 20,000. The only way to maintain profit margins is to cut costs. In this environment outlets that serve tight-knit small-town communities may be surviving but mid-sized towns with mid-sized papers are being hit hard – and it is hard to reach enough online readers to justify investing in journalism.
 

DarloRich

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Thanks @DarloRich (and @flitwickbeds )

Every day's a school day on here! :|


No worries - you only have to look at the decline of The Northern Echo over the last 5 or so years to see how local journalism has collapsed. It used to be a really high quality paper with excellent and detailed journalism covering both national and regional news and really detailed overage of local events and sport. it isn't now. The number of reporters has been cut back to the bone and quality has nose dived.

Why do press releases just get dumped into the paper ( on line or print)? Because it is cheap, easy, quick, fills space and doesn't need a costly journalist to write it!

I suppose we are all to blame: When did we last buy a local paper?

EDIT - don't get me started on photographers. I don't think local papers have any these days! ( god knows what their picture libraries are like)
 

Dr Hoo

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The original press release includes the paragraph:

"As part of the campaign, Northern has launched an online tool allowing people to find out what improvements have been made to their local station. To find out improvements at your local station visit https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/better "

I think that it is entirely reasonable to draw attention to the fact that improvements have been going on during lockdowns. Car park works are ideal as they are outdoors and can generally be undertaken under 'social distancing' conditions. There is no better time to do the work than when car parks are largely empty!

I am rather more worried that if I input the names of some stations along the Hope Valley Line it simply comes back as "This station is not managed by Northern".

We seem to have been completely obliviated now that the DfT is in charge!
 

peters

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I think that it is entirely reasonable to draw attention to the fact that improvements have been going on during lockdowns. Car park works are ideal as they are outdoors and can generally be undertaken under 'social distancing' conditions. There is no better time to do the work than when car parks are largely empty!

Are you sure? I get the impression the works were completed between when lockdown 2.0 restrictions were lifted and when lockdown 3.0 restrictions were imposed.

I'm also not sure it is the best time to be doing car park works. I would have thought the best time to lay asphalt and to put fresh line markings on it is when it's dry and when the ground temperature isn't likely to drop below freezing point.
 

Taunton

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Why do press releases just get dumped into the paper ( on line or print)? Because it is cheap, easy, quick, fills space and doesn't need a costly journalist to write it!
It gets worse - there are now sometimes charges for including your press release.

In case you think "professional" publications are somehow exempt from this, I'm afraid you only have to look at what's happened to Modern Railways in recent years.
 

Mcr Warrior

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EDIT - don't get me started on photographers. I don't think local papers have any these days! ( god knows what their picture libraries are like)
My local free sheet "ad rag" tends to illustrate its local news stories with photos lifted straight off Google Street View. :rolleyes:
 

peters

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It gets worse - there are now sometimes charges for including your press release.

Even worse - there can be charges for publishing guest articles, even if you are a student and write a guest article as a way of demonstrating your skills to prospective employers, rather than writing a guest article which promotes a business you've set up.
 

BrianW

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The key part being the lack of "local" reporters for the most part!

But yes I have noticed some rather glamorised funding press releases coming out recently, including of course EWR which keeps to be seemingly re-announced with "new" funds or press releases to reopen closed lines which to the uninformed might read as though the reopening was definitely happening.
If more 'local' people had bought 'local' papers, perhaps there would be 'local' journalists?
Organisations however 'need' PR to overcome 'local opposition' like they used to encounter in 'letters to the editor' and now online ...
Just sayin'
 

YorksLad12

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Ah... car park extensions. Happy memories of trolling out somewhere remote with a photographer so a couple of local councillors could get in the local paper... ;)

Looking at it glass-half-full (which is odd for me): at least you now that Styal's services will be returning. Why else do the improvements? For the PR team it will be part of the project plan, communicating with local passengers and stakeholders. Poor timing, but then so is most stuff these days.

Local news has been going downhill the last 15 years or so thanks to financial crises, reduced ad spend and people doing more online. Twenty years ago I'd pick up the first edition of the YEP at lunchtime, with the final edition being delivered the following morning with the morning broadsheets. Now, the apparently "Evening" paper is published overnight the night before at the same time as the broadsheet YP. If you have a relationship with a local reporter you're one of the lucky ones. Newspaper photographers are a dying breed, which is why I always booked my own and shared the files on request. All very sad.

Why do press releases just get dumped into the paper ( on line or print)? Because it is cheap, easy, quick, fills space and doesn't need a costly journalist to write it!

I suppose we are all to blame: When did we last buy a local paper?

Journalists aren't costly - that's why a lot end up in public relations, writing the same content - the money's better. :lol:
 

Taunton

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If you read Keith Waterhouse's autobiography "City Lights" about his career as an eventually very prominent journalist, from local papers to Fleet Street, you also discover this is nothing new - the local "advertiser" type publication in the 1940s very often being just edited/written by one individual, in his case with a series of teenagers who got a maybe a shilling for bringing in all the names of the mourners at local funerals - as names in the paper was what sold them.

Separately, the book is brilliant; about newspapers, Leeds (where he came from) - and trams!
 

peters

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Looking at it glass-half-full (which is odd for me): at least you now that Styal's services will be returning. Why else do the improvements?

Northern's press release (from 22nd January) mentions parking improvements being complete at 10 stations, with the reduced service starting 4 days before that, do you really think they started the works after knowing about lockdown 3.0 and that they would be reducing services again? I'm not sure exactly how much work at the station though, I notice Northern's press release doesn't include any pictures of Styal station car park and the Newsquest article reuses a picture taken on one of Styal's platforms.

If Styal was a town, rather than a village and the station was centrally located then I don't think Northern would be too concerned about spending money on the car park even if the service was permanently suspended as a town centre car park can be commercially viable. Many station car parks have to restrict their usage to rail users only, so that office workers don't take up spaces required by rail users.
 

DarloRich

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May I be honest? - Rereading the posts from the OP I am unsure what the problem is here.

And no - these press releases are not designed to hide bad news. They are just press releases.
 
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