Fearlessly exposing the bad behaviour of arrogant politicians is a sign of a good newspaper.
And so it was pleasing to pick up the Bournemouth Daily Echo on Thursday 14 November.
‘DISABLED PARKING SHAME’ screamed the front page, with ‘Councillor’s rant after she was caught in bay’ as the strong underline.
The Echo not only reported the Conservative councillor’s selfishness, but also persuaded the wardens involved to let it use pictures of Susan Phillips’ illegal parking and a tape recording of her annoyed outburst when she was fined £60.
It’s just the kind of story that annoys people, gets talked about in other media and reminds readers – and politicians – how important local newspapers can be.
A quick look at www.bournemouthecho.co.uk the following week revealed that hundreds of Echo readers had commented on the report online, by phone and by email, and even celebrity comedian Russell Brand retweeted the story with the comment “total disgrace”.
The paper was soon running follow up stories headlined ‘She should resign – calls for councillor’s resignation following rant over disabled parking spaces’, and then ‘Councillor quits role as equality and diversity champion after disabled parking row’.
Back to the paper on 14 November, this strong splash was a great start for an edition that had a decent mix of hard and soft news on inside pages, including:
- ‘Plenty of piglets’, a cute animal picture story on page three, reporting the birth of 16 rare oinkers;
- ‘Primary schools to open extra classes’ leading page four, reporting a response to a local baby boom;
- ‘Shop owner calls to catch appeal thieves’ leading page five, reporting the theft of Poppy Appeal tins; and
- ‘Pool rapped after voyeur court case’ leading page six, telling of a mum’s anger at a leisure centre’s slow response when a pervert filmed her naked with her children in dressing rooms.
Another interesting read was ‘In the dock’, a half page section containing 12 reports of convictions at magistrates in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
There were 190-plus stories on 38 news, features and sports editorial pages in the Echo’s 56-page main book, with two additional pull-outs – an eight-page Young Stars youth sports section, and a 16-page Christmas shopping guide.