Monday, 8 September 2008


I did briefly think about writing about lessons learnt from our coverage of the Croydon tram crash, but I think it's still a bit too soon - both for reasons of taste, and because the story is still very much developing. So I'll come back to it another day.

Instead I'll write about the second biggest story we had on the site this weekend - the Purley Cross UFO:

Now, at the risk of attracting the ire of alien spotters, this story is clearly a load of bollocks. And although these stories always boost your stats, it's a spike made mainly from non-local readers (a significant chunk of our readership started to come from the States after we published this on Saturday).

So it's important to minimise the risk of alienating (sorry, sorry!) your regular readers - but not killing the story entirely, or making your site a target for the global I Believe community, angered by your dismissing their latest spot.

I think the reporter, Maheesha Kottegoda, did a great job at doing this here. It's clearly tongue in cheek, but doesn't jeer at the alien spotter either. And, while trying not to sound too self-congratulatory, it seems to have worked - most of the comments are in the same gentle fun-poking spirit - and from local readers.

It would be interesting to hear of anyone else's experiences of reporting aliens - do you think we should stop doing it altogether, and stick to reporting real news? Or is a bit of harmless fun just that - harmless?


Anonymous said...

you nicked this story hook line and sinker from the Sun. Nice scoop

Jo Wadsworth said...

Hands up - yes, we did. And yes, we should have credited it. Here's the link, to make amends:

In our defence, we never claimed it as a scoop. And the Sun regularly nicks our exclusives, and doesn't credit them. So I don't feel as bad about doing the same to them as to, say, a local blogger.

But wherever the story comes from, the point remains the same - should you run these stories, and if so, how?

Anonymous said...

Ahem "I think the reporter, Maheesha Kottegoda, did a great job at doing this here."
Please miss I cutted and pasted this of the t'interweb can I have a lollipop?

Jo Wadsworth said...

I was talking about the tone in which the story was written - which is very different from how the Sun reported it.

bigblue said...

You did a much better job than the Sun. I think your story has a good balance as you put it.