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Although CO doesn’t entirely escape any responsibility for the woes of the regional press (I’m sure he did okay out of it), this is an excellent, thoughtful analysis of what is now a pretty dire situation.
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Chris is right. It’s time to start building the regional press from the grass roots up again. I’ve worked in newspapers for 30 years in one form or another, employed by all the major groups he mentions. Now even my Trinity-owned local weekly no longer has a local office, is based on an industrial estate miles away from its readership, and is full of PR puffs or ‘citizen journalism’ drivel. What I have noticed is a plethora of local magazines and amateurish news sheets springing up, attempting to fill the gap left by the once highly esteemed local newspaper. Some of these are better than others. But at least there is a feeling that they are genuinely concerned with local issues while the local Trinity weekly has all but given up.
Truly impressive. Not only a blistering yet considered analysis of the past and present, but a clear vision for the future.
Chris writes about the last time he met Ray Tindle..”The last time I spoke to him, every one of his titles was turning a profit ..”
That must have been before he bought the South London Press…
Sorry, but Chris really should double-check before he takes as gospel what someone says to him…
There’s a recurring theme here – only a week or two ago a report about Danny Lockwood’s Dewsbury weekly looking to set up a ‘franchise’ syste, for journo’s to own their local papers.
Of course people want to read ‘local’ news and the courts and the police and local government needs to be watched in the public interest.
But all too often regional dailies in the UK have contracted staff to satisfy shareholder demands they have become totally irrelevant to the community they are supposed to serve.
Well said CO.
Quite some years ago at a Society of Editors conference I complained to Chris Oakley that I didn’t have the resources to do a decent job – to give the readers and advertisers the quality service I felt they deserved (something I was used to, having worked for family companies for 20-odd years).
His reply was chilling – and a portent: “You don’t understand; the name of the game has changed. It’s all about how much you can get for how little.”
I thought at the time it was just a sad, jaundiced view of the newspaper industry (though he had just sold out to JP for an absolute bomb!!), but latterly had to, sadly, agree with his depressing view of the industry.
Those of us who had been in the business long enough to have been there, seen that, knew JP would implode the day it stopped acquiring with borrowed money . . . but obviously, highly-paid our lords and masters knew better
I just pray a decent pension will be there to take in a few years.