Memorandum from Philip Harrison


I am a trainee journalist currently studying at NoSweat Journalism Training at Farringdon in London. Having started my course only recently I feel I am in the unique position to comment both from a journalistic and public view on local media.


I started my course two weeks and ago and before this I would have said that I was adequately voiced in local politics. After two lessons on Local Government I can safely say I did not have any understandings of the complexities of local government.


I feel that local press has a huge part to play as an ombudsman and link between the council and its community. Without a strong local paper locals immediately feel cut off from their councillors and MP causing voter apathy.


Also since working on my local paper The Essex Enquirer I have found that only a very small proportion of people are aware or willing to use the avenues put forward by Government to appeal and question local decision.


The local press must be there to fight battles for local residents. Just because a council has a website and a comments page does not mean residents will use it. People will always happily search out their local journalist (be it by phone or internet) and they must be supported so that government can continue to be held to account and voter apathy is not further fed.


My first exclusive came out this week about a good friend of mine who has struggle to receive help and advice from the Job Centre. He is a local plumber and would NEVER have considered approaching the local MP Bob Spink (though he can be easily contacted directly by mobile). Through my article I contacted Mr Spink and the problems have been voiced in a public arena promoting debate.


This email has been born out of personal frustration having witnessed voter apathy throughout college and university. The government must understand that the younger generation are not interested in long drawn out procedures. They want to witness local government first hand working for them. If they do not we must fight for a press to be there as a way of stopping alienating the population.


March 2009