the-guardian-logoThe Guardian journalist Andy Beckett has defended his article in which he compared the North East to Detroit.

Writing in The Journal, Beckett also reveals the process by which he was commissioned to write the piece and challenges his critics:

“What I don’t accept is that journalists from outside the North East have no right to come to the region and report things as they see them, however uncomfortable they may be to read. I hope I can visit the North East again some time, and write a more optimistic piece.

“But maybe critics of my last one should consider whether that’s the only kind of journalism they want to read.”

His original article from the weekend caused an angry outpouring across social media, more than 1,000 comments on the article itself and even prompted the launch of a petition asking him to return to the region and look again.

The piece contained factual inaccuracies about the region as well assumptions and omissions which had the overall effect of painting the area in a damning light.

Local entrepreneur and well-known figure Paul Smith was one of those to take issue with the piece.

In a piece titled, Lies, damned lies, statistics and The Guardian, Smith said: “Journalist Andy Beckett excels in painting the bleakest possible view of the North East; a distant plateau of rust and misery, desperate and stagnating, a region without jobs, hope or prospect.”

The petition started by Sarah Hall has now reached more than 500 signatures. She posted on her blog:

“Let’s hope this unhappy experience prompts all the nationals to consider their (lack of) presence in the region and to keep balance in mind at all times.”