1 September 2014

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Top-performing weekly battles elements to go to press

Heavy snow proved no match for dedicated staff at one island weekly paper, who managed to get their bumper Easter edition out on the streets against the odds.

Reporters at the Arran Banner – the only paid-for weekly in Scotland to post an increase in sales in the latest ABCs – battled the elements to get the 28-page holiday special out as usual, despite the unseasonably poor weather blocking travel routes and knocking out power lines.

Chief reporter Jennifer Lyon was unable to get to the office for three days due to being snowed in – and, due to major power cuts and phone lines being down, she was unable to even work from home.

“I was just out and about snapping away on my camera. I was actually really lucky to get the pictures I did because until then nobody had been to the worst-affected parts,” said Jennifer, who lives in the northern part of the island.

“It has been quite difficult but fortunately the office got its power back quite quickly so we could update the website and Facebook page to keep people informed – or at least, those that did have power. Some of our Facebook updates were shared more than 300 times, which is pretty good as we only have about 2,000 ‘likes’ for our page.

“We have also had to find a different angle as, being a weekly, by the time we come out everyone will already know what has happened. We have gone with the ‘local heroes’-type stories.”

She said residents had been helping to dig roads clear to reach stranded communities, providing food and drink and rescuing those stuck in the snow.

Arran Banner chief reporter Jennifer Lyon (right) out taking pictures of the heavy snowfall, before she managed to reach the paper's offices

Jennifer has been with the Banner for six and a half years, and is one of two reporters based on the island. The other, Howard Driver, is retiring this year after 28 years at the paper.

The editor, Stewart Mackenzie, is based at the paper’s publishers, Wyvex Media, in Oban.

Jennifer said the snow had added to a “hectic few weeks” for the Banner, after the ABCs success and her promotion to chief reporter at the end of March.

“It has been pretty amazing – it was a crazy couple of weeks,” she said.

“I think we are all looking forward to things getting back to normal a bit now.”

The most recent Audit Bureau of Circulation report, released in February, showed the Arran Banner increased sales by 2.1pc up to 3,158 copies a week – the only paid-for weekly in Scotland, and one of just 13 across the UK, to report a rise.



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