Is starting small the best route to a national paper?

A U.K.-based blogger was shocked to hear an editor say that his national newspaper no longer considers regional papers a ripe training ground for up-and-coming journalists.  She recounts a meeting with an desk editor at a national paper, in which he said he prefers to train people as the smaller papers are no longer churning out skilled investigative reporters.

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade, in a later column, disagreed. He says many journalists at regional papers acquire strong skills, but that it is becoming more and more difficult for journalists to find opportunities to present these skills to national editors. He writes:

“…the ready supply of eager young students willing to work for nothing, or next to nothing, makes greater economic sense.

I am sure that there are many regional journalists with the potential to become excellent national paper reporters. Most of them have the basic training. What they lack is experience and they cannot possibly obtain that without doing th shifts. It’s a catch 22 situation.”

Greenslade also questions the assumption that national newspaper journalists tend to have great investigative skills:

Finally, I cannot help but take issue with the editor’s underlying
assumption that national papers are replete with journalists who
are skilled in investigative and writing skills. I don’t think so.”

Hat tip to The Editor’s Weblog.