Robert Hampton

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3rd August 2009

The Voice of Merseyside… in Oldham

Today marked the start of a brave new era, as the Liverpool Echo is now printed at Trinity Mirror’s Oldham printing press. According to Liverpool Confidential, editors are “acutely sensitive” that this move will undermine the paper’s credibility as a champion for Merseyside.

As I said when this news was announced last year, they are right to be worried. This is not an anti-Manchester thing, more a concern that the changes required to accommodate the move will destroy the paper completely. I’m particularly interested that an “evening” paper will now have a deadline of 7am! We had an example of the damage early deadlines can do only recently, when the Echo was unable to carry any news of Steven Gerrard’s acquittal until the day after the verdict was delivered, by which time it had been thoroughly gone over by TV, radio and the morning national papers and was generally old news. Yes, newspapers are being undermined by the internet, but it seems odd of Trinity Mirror to respond to that threat by making their publication appear even more irrelevant and out of date.

I haven’t been impressed with the Echo for years. Yes, they have run some important campaigns, but they are let down by sloppy reporting, sensationalism (count the number of times the words “CHAOS”, “TERROR” or “HORROR” are used in headlines) and an obsession with generally unimportant matters (car parking, Mersey Tunnel tolls, “Miseryrail”). Their good columnists (Will Batchelor, Laurence Westgaph) disappeared, while tedious rant-merchants like Joe Riley and Pete Price stay on. They’ve even dropped the Willie cartoon!

So I will probably be saving my 47p a day in future. My advice is to use the internet (I highly recommend Liverpool Confidential) or at a pinch, the BBC Radio Merseyside news bulletin at the top of each hour. But if you do this, for God’s sake, turn it off again as soon as the news finishes so you don’t have to listen to the rest of that station’s output.