When the editor’s away, the staff will play…
Or so readers of the Bucks Free Press found when editor Steve Cohen took the week off, and acting deputy news editor Frankie Taggart wrote from the Editor’s Chair – to let readers know what’s rattled his cage recently.
No babies, no bus lanes, no fountain frolics, no term-time car misery, no TV licence indignation, no conspiracy theories about mobile phones.
Yep, you’ve guessed it no Steve Cohen.
Our esteemed editor is leading the way in the frantic seasonal dash to use up or lose holiday entitlement leaving the Good Ship South Bucks Star looking more like the Marie Celeste.
So fasten your life jackets, because, while the good captain is away, I’m staging a mutiny.
For those of you peering, perplexed, at the picture, wondering why Steve appears to have regained his youthful good looks and dodgy facial hair, allow me to introduce myself.
I am Frankie Taggart erstwhile High Wycombe reporter turned middle manager and I write a column called Backchat in our sister paper, Midweek.
I would say I am one of the biggest critics and biggest fans of Steve’s columns. Editor’s Chair is the first page I turn to when I pick up the Star.
I don’t have a second-favourite page, as I have usually torn up the newspaper by the time I have finished Steve’s column.
I disagree with Steve on a lot of issues. His constant harping about the London Road bus lane leaves me cold, for example.
Of all the injustices life has to throw at us, having to read one of the numerous road signs telling you whether or not you should be using the lane (it’s called driving with due care and attention) does not worry me unduly.
At 31p a day, the TV licence charge doesn’t strike me as something to ring Amnesty International about, either.
I don’t have a baby, as far as I know, and I’m also apathetic to the plight of the many sleepless parents who suffer at the hands of their screaming weanlings.
I think we have broadly the same views on passive smoking, and that’s about it.
Being editor of a local newspaper, like captaining a ship, carries with it certain responsibilities.
Around the country there are about 1,300 Steve Cohens, all getting apoplectic with rage over car parking and house prices.
But 85 per cent of you read what they have to say buying 4,167 local newspapers every minute to lap up their words of wisdom (source: something I once read somewhere).
You like Steve’s myriad obsessions and paranoias or if you don’t, you like not liking them, if you see what I mean.
And that’s the skill of fitting in the Editor’s Chair (which I’m finding more comfortable by the second, by the way, Steve).
It’s about having an instinct for what the majority of your readers will be interested in.
Steve seems to get it right more than half the time, and he should having been editor of this paper since the days when the Editor’s Chair was probably manufactured in High Wycombe.
Steve’s column is more popular than Backchat, and I think this Fletcher Christian has a lot more to learn about the Star and its readers before mutineering.
So maybe I won’t tear up the paper this week after reading the Editor’s Chair.
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