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