I wonder how close the Cambridge News was to splashing with this story on Tuesday 17 December 2013: ‘Teacher quits class to open spanking new fetish store’.
A local art teacher giving up her profession to run a bondage shop selling whips, gags and naughty latex underwear was certainly the most readable story for me that day.
But in the end, this tempting tale of what Miss was getting up to after school was probably quite rightly placed on page nine.
While your average News reader might have enjoyed the story, they might not have have appreciated too sensational an approach in what is, for many, a family newspaper.
The Cambridge news desk couldn’t, however, quite resist running a ‘From teacher to fetish shop owner’ blurb down the flank of page one, alongside a more traditional lead.
‘Arsonists torch school buildings’ was, of course, the better hard news lead, and with the head allowing young children to pose next to a charred classroom it made an unbeatable package. There were several other good stories, including:
- ‘Customers terrified by masked robbers’, leading page two;
- ‘Opposition to A14 upgrade in survey’, leading page five;
- ‘Increase in arrests for trade in flesh’, leading page six, a report on sex trafficking in Cambridgeshire;
- ‘Students vote to remove Soviet flag from college bar’, leading page eight;
- ‘Takes Allsorts: thieves steal Bertie Bassetts’, leading page nine, reporting a garden furniture raid; and
- ‘I will love you forever, says crash victim’s wife’, leading page 13.
Placing ‘Family Announcements’ before the fold and away from classifieds is always a good idea, with a page 10 full of death notices providing an extra read.
BMDs are the ultimate in user-generated content which papers ought to make far more fuss about in terms of where they appear.
Overall, there were 130-plus news, features and sports stories on 35 editorial pages in a 44-page book which, at a cover price of 55p, was perhaps a below-average value story count, but acceptable for a pre-Christmas week Tuesday edition.
That said, sport itself was really stingy, with just 17 reads on five pages.
I came across my crumpled copy in the bar at The Waterman, Cambridge – it’s always encouraging to find the local paper stocked by pubs; an even better sign was that I had to wait while two other punters perused the News before I was able to get my hands on it.
The Cambridge News, a former Iliffe and now Local World publication, circulated 18,586 copies a day in the latest ABCs, with a healthier-than-most annual decline of 3.9pc – although some 17pc were bulks or frees.