Were Sheffield’s media to blame for the fuel crisis?

Plus, when Malcolm X spoke to city students

Good afternoon readers — and welcome to The Tribune’s weekly briefing.

Today’s main story is about last week’s fuel crisis and the part Sheffield’s media played in it… There’s also a brilliant new art exhibition in Barnsley and a really interesting article about when Malcolm X came to speak to the city’s students.

Our weekend read was another extraordinary piece by Tribune editor and writer Sophie Atkinson about Sheffield gay rights pioneer Edward Carpenter. To read that story click here.

Last week we sent our 417 members a story about the amateur Sheffield meteorologist taking on clickbait weather stories and another about ambitious plans that could change the face of Sheffield city centre.

Coming up this week we have a piece about growing up on Parson Cross and a review of the Graves Gallery’s new exhibitions. To get both those stories and contribute to the growth of a news source for Sheffield that will serve the city for years to come, subscribe using the button below. It costs less than £1.50 a week if you subscribe for a year (£70).

This week’s weather

Our forecast comes from local weather service Steel City Skies, who say “low pressure initially controls our weather with showers or longer spells of rain to start. The jet stream loops northwards after midweek with high pressure providing a quieter spell of weather that's set to last through the weekend, too.”

  • Monday 🌦 showers quickly increase in coverage during the morning with a wet and changeable afternoon likely. Rather cool and breezy with highs of 15°C.

  • Tuesday 🌦 a wet night initially improves with brighter spells for a time. An occluded front is expected to swing back round and bring rain back for the afternoon, along with gusty winds. Highs of 13°C.

  • Wednesday ⛅️ a breezy but drier day with good spells of sunshine, perhaps hazy at times. Low cloud expected overnight. Highs of 16°C.

  • Thursday ⛅️ extensive low cloud is likely to start, but this should gradually break up to sunnier conditions. Lighter winds and dry throughout with highs of 18 °C.

  • Friday ⛅️ a similar day with low cloud and mist patches in prone spots to start. Brighter skies again breaking through later on. Mild with highs of 18 °C.

  • Weekend ⛅️ a continuation of dry and settled weather is expected. Still the risk of stubborn low cloud, especially in the mornings. Otherwise, it is pleasant with bright spells, light winds and temperatures at or slightly above average.

For the full forecast, please visit Steel City Skies, which bills itself as “weather for Sheffield without the hyperbole”. We reported on them in our members’ story last Tuesday and we’re very glad they’re on board.

The big story: The media’s role in the run on fuel in Sheffield

Top line: When petrol pumps in Sheffield first began to run dry in September, the news led both the national and local news bulletins. These reports brought the shortages to more people’s attention and led to queues across the city. Panic buying then started, exacerbating the shortages and closing filling stations.

The blame game: At one point last week, Yorkshire Live asked its readers who they thought was responsible for the fuel crisis but they didn’t get the answer they were hoping for. Reader after reader commented on The Star and Yorkshire Live’s Facebook page calling for the papers to stop publishing the stories.

  • On The Star’s Facebook page, Nick Wragg wrote: “The media has caused this by constant articles making morons go out and panic buy.”

  • On the same post, Wayne Harrison wrote: “Funny how the media are reporting on a problem they caused by sensationalising it.”

Polling data: Sheffield wasn’t alone. YouGov asked 3,361 Brits who had caused the shortages and almost half (47%) said the media were to blame, followed by the government (23%) and the public (22%).

Journalistic ethics: Fuel shortages are a legitimate story to report and editors aren’t in the business of suppressing news that might be of use to readers. But many people clearly feel that the tone of the coverage was making things worse.

  • A regular gripe for readers in Sheffield is sensational and misleading stories, like ones predicting snow, heatwaves or other extreme conditions which never arrive.

  • The fact that most newspapers are primarily funded by advertising means that they are highly incentivised to publish stories that will garner a lot of clicks. We’ve written about that problem before.

Rebuilding trust: Part of The Tribune’s mission is to help rebuild trust in the media. As you will know by now we don’t do clickbait stories and our model of “slow news” tries to give readers the context they need to understand issues properly.

Vigil for High Street stabbing victim

On Friday night, two weeks after the death of 24-year-old Mohamed Issa Koroma on High Street, civic leaders and members of the public gathered at a vigil in his honour close to the place he was fatally stabbed. James Lee, 31, of Doncaster Road, Rotherham, will stand trial for his murder next March.

Covid-19 update

Cases: The Covid case rate in Sheffield — the number of positive cases per 100,000 people over seven days — is 335.5, up 221 cases or 12.6% from last week. The council says cases are “turbulent”, but around the average for England. Most cases are in school-age children.

Hospitals: The number of patients being treated in hospitals in Sheffield is 102, a fall of one from last week. Of these, 18 are on ventilation, an increase of three from last week. Nine deaths linked to the virus have taken place over the last seven days.

Vaccines: 763,664 vaccine doses have now been given out in Sheffield, including 397,819 first doses and 365,845 second doses. 78% of over-16s have had one jab. Across Yorkshire and the North East, 199,308 booster jabs have now been administered.

Our favourite reads

  1. This is a brilliant blog by travel writer Emily Luxton about art in Sheffield. Emily visited the city recently and was impressed by its art offer, not just in galleries and shops but also on the city’s streets. It’s really nice to read how someone from outside sees Sheffield, and the fact she went away so impressed makes you look at it anew. There were even some art galleries and murals included in the piece that I didn’t know about.

  2. As we’ve mentioned before, author Désirée Reynolds is currently writer in residence at Sheffield City Archives. In this fascinating piece she looks at when the Black American civil rights activist Malcolm X came to Sheffield to speak at the university’s students’ union in 1964. He spoke to one of the biggest crowds the union had ever seen but his visit was greeted by hostility and lies in the local press.

  1. The Financial Times report that the government is about to announce a major rethink of the HS2 high-speed rail link between Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds. Transport secretary Grant Shapps said that that they didn’t want to “blindly follow” a blueprint set out by the last Labour government 15 years ago. He said the government wanted instead to connect the cities of the north using Northern Powerhouse Rail.

  2. A lovely story by Star business editor David Walsh about a high-flying former executive who quit his job during the pandemic to run a farm shop. Ian Proctor set up Knab Farm Shop in Millhouses and is currently working 14 hour days, six and a half days a week to get it off the ground. “You can make rewarding decisions fast,” he says. “And I’m really enjoying being responsible for my own destiny.”

  3. There is so much great local history in Sheffield sometimes it’s difficult to keep up — and this piece from the Fulwood History Group is a case in point. The article looks at the history of the Fulwood Guildhall, from its creation as a barn to its birth as a community building in 1909 and its modern day usage as a private family house. The group is also looking for volunteers to get involved in their research.

Old Town Hall to be sold at auction

The Sheffield Telegraph reported last week that the Old Town Hall would be auctioned off later this year. The building has been for sale since June and several bids were tabled but these seem not to have come to fruition. The building will go under the hammer in November with a starting price of less than £1m, a big drop from the £1.35m administrators Wilson Field wanted for it.

However, despite the prospect of the building finally getting a new owner, there are fears that this may not provide the brighter future for the crumbling Grade II listed structure that everyone wants. With little to be gained commercially from the building without huge investment, an owner who will simply sit on the building as an investment remains the most likely outcome of the sale. 

Valerie Bayliss of the Friends of Old Town Hall told The Tribune that it was time for Sheffield City Council to step in. She said: “This turn of events is no great surprise. We hope the council, in light of Terry Fox's recent statement, will now seek an imaginative solution, since its wish to regenerate Castlegate as a whole will make little progress if there is no solution for the Old Town Hall.”

Things to do

Festival: Sheffield’s Sensoria music and film festival returns after a year off due to Covid. Highlights include From The Estate at S1 Artspace, a collection of photos and soundscapes from four Sheffield estates; and a screening Afghan/Iranian rock band documentary The Forbidden Strings on October 5. The festival is nicely previewed in Now Then here.

Art: An exhibition of drawings by well known artists are on loan from the British Museum to Barnsley’s Cooper Gallery from now until next February. Pushing paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 includes pieces of work by David Hockney, Rachel Whiteread, Anish Kapoor, Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry. A video has been created to go with the show.

Learn: Sheffield Museums’ latest Facebook Live talk is about landscape art. The Millennium Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition which seeks to subvert the “sublime and picturesque” norms of the genre. The talk, which takes place online on Wednesday, October 6 at 1pm, asks why it has become so difficult for artists to respond to landscape in traditional ways.

Visit: When complete, the University of Sheffield’s long-awaited Faculty of Social Sciences building in Broomhill will accommodate approximately 3,200 students and staff. As part of Open Doors Week, members of the public are being offered the chance to see the construction work first hand during site visits on Wednesday 6 and Friday 8 October. Book here.

Comedy: The ROFL comedy club on Devonshire Street brings TV comedians from programmes such as 8 Out Of Ten Cats and Have I Got New For You to Sheffield every Friday and Saturday night. Compered by broadcaster Harriet Dyer, the evenings also feature drinks and live music in the downstairs Hemingways bar before and after the show. Book here.

Tramlines 1902

This incredible video is shot from a Sheffield tram making its way down High Street past Fitzalan Square in 1902. The footage has been tidied up and has had a realistic soundtrack of street noise added to it, bringing vibrancy to the scene. Commenters on Twitter noted the graceful way people were hopping on and off the trams — while wondering what modern day health and safety legislation would make of the practice.