Summer of stories: I felt compelled to do a good job on behalf of those involved
Federica Bedendo is a senior reporter at the Times & Star, The Whitehaven News and the News & Star newspapers in Cumbria. In our latest Summer of Stories Q&A, she shares details of a story which shows how local journalism is still holding the powerful to account…
What was this story about?
An investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by a private parking company
How did you find out about this story?
Initially from a contact, but as soon as I ran a story about the issue, more people contacted me with more case studies and information
Can you tell us about what work went on prior to publication?
I spoke to a number of people who believed they had been wrongly issued with a PCN; I analysed data from the DVLA to find out how many requests for personal details of registered keepers at the date of event had been made by private parking companies; I analysed information available on Companies House to see if there was a link between the private parking company and the firm running appeals; I spoke to all interested parities, including an MP who had launched a mass legal action against the parking firm.
What was the reaction after publication?
Many readers got in touch to thank me for my investigation and the director of the parking firm also thanked me for a balanced article, which I wasn’t expecting at all.
Why will you remember this story?
A lot of work went into fact checking the claims and I’m proud of the level of detail I was able to bring to the story. This issue has affected so many people in my patch, I felt compelled to do a good job for them.
Did this story tell you anything about local journalism? If so, what?
It tells me that local journalism needs people with investigative skills and most importantly the time to carry out these investigations. Times are tough in local papers due to cuts to newsrooms and falling sales, but if you are driven you can still bring some great journalism to life.
Is there any advice you could give a would-be journalist based on this story?
Check your facts, dig deep and use all the resources you have available to you. And never forget that there are always two sides to a story.