Sunday, June 03, 2007

The people report from the local

Today's people website carries a rather descriptive if not necessarily accurate appraisal of Margate. I'm not sure whether this also appears in their print edition, since its many a-year when I last purchased a copy. Basically the story is what some might regard as a cliche ''scroungers on sea'' type of thing. The story itself is given the exclusive label, which in journalistic terms generally means its exclusive or as is likely in this case a nothing sort of story, just sexed up a bit, that no other papers interested in.

Here's fact number one, referring to Margate the journalists (it apparently takes two of them) described Margate thus ''the town they called ''Sicknote on Sea'' '', well I have travelled fairly extensively and have yet to hear, Margate called anything but Margate.

Now they report on dole cheats, who apparently flock from all over Britain to sign on in Margate, which probably is true, and the chances are there are 5000 people, claiming benefits in Margate. However I would be surprised if more than 10 per cent of those, were actually making benefit fraud, their main career choice.

Judging from the report, it looks as if a lot of research was carried out in the bars of local pubs the Doggett Coat and Badge and Bulls Head. Presumably the quotes, in the article are genuine. But assuming you're only interviewing benefit claimants you've found in a pub, then the chances are, that they will be on the fiddle.

Much of this article seems to be based on exaggeration, references to empty Jobcentres varies considerably from my experience, referring to an event to encourage people back into work at the local SureStart, the journalists tell us that claimants '', were TOO DRUNK to attend'' , I believe that the event they referred to, was to encourage single parents back into work, assuming that was correct, they could have had a more sensational story of child neglect.

I realise that the people newspaper, is more magazine than serious newspaper, but it's quite sad that it seems no serious journalistic attempt is made at balance. For instance there must be many people who are only eligible, for the basic jobseeker's allowance of £57, who will not be found in pubs, but will rather be concentrating on getting a job that pays something approaching a living wage. Also the local Jobcentre no longer offers any serious, training opportunities the best you are likely to find round here, are elementary computer courses, catering and that sort of thing.

The article is written by Jessica Boulton and Nick Dorman, I must say that the last name seems familiar, I wonder if that would be the same Nick Dorman who worked for Kent regional newspapers and wrote a rather sensational piece about local MP Roger Gale last year, which resulted in the Isle of Thanet Gazette, losing Roger Gale as one of their regular contributors.

Finally as with many 'news stories' you have to accept that the journalists will enhance stories, particularly when there is space to fill, and we continue to read it, unquestioningly until it's about us, had the story been about Ramsgate I would have accepted it.

The People's uncomplimentary report on Margate click here


  1. Indeed, I think was is the Nick Dorman you are thinking of. Interesting promotion, from Thanet's blue topped rag to People.

  2. Yes, interesting indeed, especially as our Nick was last spotted heading off to Canada some months ago. Maybe he conducted his research by telephone? Or maybe this story has been sitting on a spike for months awaiting a slow news week? Or maybe, again, Nick just contributed the local colour? I think we should be told!

  3. Nick is very flattered that you have found time to discuss his piece.

    He is back in Blighty and filed the story last week.

    Keep up the good work

  4. How reassuring to realise the story has not been concocted, from a million miles away but instead painstakingly researched in part, at some of Thanets premiere watering-holes. I am pleased that Nick is flattered according to the anonymous contributor@1059 A M, I naturally assume that he is an avid reader, of Bignews Margate.

    As you know, one of the reasons I write, is because maybe due to the nature of the game, proper journalists as opposed to amateur bloggers, are restricted I feel, so therefore people like me can add a bit of a balance.

    Now it's not just, local journals, that omit some news items, but clearly the red tops, are frequently guilty of sloppy writing, distortion of facts etc and this is not the first time, that I have commented on reports in national newspapers.

    To me it just seems sad, that Nick Dorman contributed, to what will seem to many just a highly exaggerated slur on Margate. I assumed Mr Dorman has some local knowledge from his time in Thanet.

    To my mind, this story could have been written about virtually any seaside town. Still maybe if Nick feels flattered, perhaps one of his colleagues could point out that I neither praised nor complemented him and his colleague on their report.

    Incidentally if Nick Dorman would like some background information on Margates real Jobcentre experience for normal working people he could do worse, than contact me.

    Incidentally it might be handy if Nick took a gander at some of his former colleagues work, which for some quaint reason is pretty much fact based, such as Kathy Bailes who's not only quite prolific but also accurate informative and readable also that Eileen O'Brien or Alex McNally.

  5. I went down to the doggett on monday to see a friend,and to be honest nearly all the customers were retired.
    A couple of blokes were on nights and having a beer before going to bed,but there were no sign of so called scroungers in the pub.
    What time did the picture get taken of the Job Centre?
    the front desk is always manned by 2 or 3 security staff,my guess is it was on a sunday.
    I would like nick to go back to the doggett and explain his take on this story and I am sure he will be made welcome!!!!!

  6. Is it really worth being on jobseekers? Really?

    I think this is just another slow news day article with lots of facts glossed over.

  7. I'm not sure how they can claim to have an exclusive when "news of the world" also published a similar item... (shakes head at lack of journalistic skills of our nations reporters.)

    Well done on spotting the connection in the name(s).