How can community radio stations combat misinformation?

Central to reporting on a viral story is to understand exactly what your station may be covering. That might seem obvious, but if your station is approaching a viral story, knowing what it is beyond the headline and being able to explain its many facets to your audience is required. Journalists are human, and it can be easy to get swept up in chasing the news clock and not consider much regarding the bigger picture. Community radio, with its bond of trust with listeners, must actively resist this trend.

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We have always had loads of news, living in a large city. Harborough FM did some local news reports last year and commented how easy it was to find good newsworthy stories regularly and that the battle was actually deciding which to cover.

This has always got me thinking. What about sleepy hollow where nothing ever happens and has a local news commitment? The temptation to cover a viral story just because it is something must be huge.

I gave family on the island of Guernsey. It made front page news recently when a cyclist was knocked off their bike and went to hospital. Another front page article was when a local school won a national award for spelling or similar. The court listings include fines for not paying bus fares and decisions of disputes over hedge trimming.

I guess if you get into the mindset of how to make anything into a news story then there is plenty out there, but at first glance it looks very tin pot that your headline article is about moving a bus stop 20 yards. Then the quaintness sets in.

The question is however if these stations are prepared to accept the reality of where they live, such as the Eye, Hermitage and Harborough FM locally to me, or do they dream of living in a city where there are at least two major stories per day.

Yesterday we had a stabbing and major arson. Friday we had a school that had been invaded by a gang of youths with knives and went on to lock down. Thursday was a violent sexual assault in a park. This is just from memory.

I personally would far rather not have to report on them and would take the bus stop moving 20 yards scandal any day.


Perhaps, @SamHunt, news fills the space available. If you live on Guernsey and the big story is that a bus stop is to be moved 20 yards then so be it - that could be big news for that community. And might we not all prefer to live in a world where the location of a bus stop is the big story rather than the current diet of imminent civil unrest which we are fed constantly? May you live in interesting times as the apocryphal ‘ancient curse’ is meant to say. I wouldn’t mind a spot of quaintness for a few years. :grinning: