(Image Courtesy of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team. A family group of six became stranded overnight after travelling on the fells in conditions like those pictured. This serious news item should have been on BBC North West Tonight because folk from the North West are more likely to end up stranded in the Lakes than those from elsewhere)
BBC Look North (Newcastle) featured two pieces about the English Lake District- very much in North West England- on it’s bulletins. The first featured a family group of six people who attempted to cycle from Windermere to Wasdale Head in poor weather- they got lost on the high fells in between and had to be rescued by Keswick Mountain Rescue teams (this story can be seen here: https://t.co/ZCNbNkvLR5?amp=1). This was serious news- a family of six getting lost on the high fells in poor weather could have ended in tragedy. The second feature was about an ecology graduate George Taplin swimming the length of all 13 lakes in the Lake District in record time (more here: https://t.co/AOKOzZL9DG?amp=1). Neither of these news items (though the swimming record hardly constitutes “news”), nor any other Cumbrian news- coverage reached BBC North West Tonight or ITV Granada Reports this evening, nor yesterday (and that followed ten days to Monday 3rd August- without any mention of Cumbria on BBC North West Tonight or ITV Granada).
To be fair, Lancashire has been getting plenty of coverage on BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada because of rising Coronavirus cases in much of the county- and today authorities in Preston were planning more stringent measures. Yesterday featured flooding on the estate of Scotforth, in Lancaster, following heavy rain affecting the area. However, a good North West Regional News service covers the entire region in its output; there should never be a situation where the regional news- service serving the North East of England covers the northern half of North West England whilst the North West Regional News does not cover the northern half of North West England!
People from which Region of England are most likely to be hiking across the heart of the Lake District in bad weather? Which Regional audience is it most appropriate for- and which would need to be warned the most of the potential perils of setting off on bikes across high ground with the mist and rain descending? Almost all of Lancashire, and northern Greater Manchester are within an hour’s drive of the central Lake District. Tyneside and Teesside, in North East England, are over two hours’ drive away from the central Lakes. It is true that during August you can expect some people to travel to the Lake District from all over Britain if they are staying several days, you could argue that this means it is relevant for North East England, but probably not more so than travellers from Cheshire, South Yorkshire or the West Midlands. Scottish lowlanders are much more likely to travel north to the Highlands for beautiful countryside and a break, than come south to Cumbria with its less lofty mountains. And with Coronavirus cases edging upwards in parts of the country, not quite so many folk are venturing far from home in any case.
Now, roughly three million people live in Lancashire, South Cumbria and northern Greater Manchester. They all live within a distance whereby it is possible to travel to the Lake District in an hour (if not by car, then certainly by train)- and thus it is they who make day-trips to the Lake District in addition to longer stays. The lower- populated and more distant (at least in terms of travel time) North East of England need to be warned about the perils of “Rainy Day Hikes” in the Lake District rather less.
It should, therefore, have been Annabel Tiffin on North West Tonight featuring this rather serious story of a family group of six needing rescuing by one of the Lake District Mountain Rescue Teams from the rain-swept Lakeland fells in the night- not so much Carol Malia of BBC Look North (though this news item will have salience with North Cumbrian viewers of Look North): Northern North East England is also a large rural area complete with the rugged Cheviot hills along the Border with Scotland and Kielder Forest- and perhaps BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) should focus on covering that more given the scant amount of coverage it currently receives.
The BBC Regions must ensure news- items reach the eyes and ears of the most appropriate audiences: For significant news-items there may be two or three audiences that need to see it- for instance, a major incident in northern Cumbria should be seen by viewers across North West England, the North East of England and southern Scotland. That family of six stranded on the fells above Windermere should have certainly been on the almost three million household televisions across North West England!