Every week, Greenwich Council takes some of my council tax money and uses it to produce a newspaper which, apparently, should inform me of what’s happening in my local area, let me know what the council’s up to, and broaden my knowledge of what’s going on with the seventy quid a month they take off me.
The result is Greenwich Time, which has no proper web presence, so – citizens of a random splodge of London between Deptford, Mottingham and Thamesmead, it’s our little secret, okay? So, to make sure the rest of you aren’t missing out, here’s its completely unbiased take on the scrapping of the Thames Gateway Bridge in Thamesmead…
Apparently, we’re set to suffer because of this decision. Apparently this is worse than having added traffic congestion and pollution because someone’s lumped a bloody great big road bridge through the middle of residential Thamesmead, which is already under an airport flightpath. Now, I appreciate there’s an argument for creating better transport links to the north side of the Thames, but… oh, if Greenwich Time can’t even put both sides of the argument across, why should I bother?
(See Brockley Central for the kind of lively debate that this subject needs.)
There’s a point to this, though, which is beyond politics. Greenwich borough has no proper, independent, paid-for local newspaper. It has two iffy freesheets, the Mercury and the News Shopper, based well outside of the area (in Streatham and Petts Wood, near Orpington, respectively). Greenwich Time has a superior distribution system to the Mercury and the News Shopper. It competes with these titles for advertising revenue. To an extent, the owners of these two rags (especially the Mercury, which suffered badly under previous owner Trinity Mirror) are the authors of their own misfortune and it could be argued that Greenwich Council is filling a vacuum by providing its own newspaper.
But the existence of Greenwich Time in its current form is a threat to independent journalism in the borough of Greenwich, putting the jobs of journalists at risk and denying the people of the borough of their right to independent, unbiased information. This is dangerous, and, ultimately, is a threat to democracy.
So, clearly, what we need is a big, strong, local paper to expose Greenwich Time for the nasty propaganda sheet for what it is! Oh…