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We "thought local" before you did says WMN

A regional morning daily has claimed that its 2001 campaign to help farmers in the wake of foot and mouth is the inspiration for the current spate of regional press recession-busting initiatives.

Over the past fortnight, HoldtheFrontPage has highlighted a series of campaigns launched by regional papers to help their local economies combat the downturn.

They include the Sunderland Echo’s Keep Wearside Working, The Journal’s Think North East First, the Southern Daily Echo’s Sell Yourself, and the Leicester Mercury’s Support Your County.

But the Western Morning News claims it had the original idea with its “Buy Local” campaign launched nearly eight years ago and revived as “Think Local” last year.

Deputy editor Philip Bowern told HoldtheFrontPage: “It is interesting – and flattering – to read of newspapers across the country adopting their own versions of the Buy Local campaign which was pioneered by the Western Morning News in 2001.

“We launched it to help our farmers trade their way out of trouble following the devastating foot and mouth crisis of that year which hit so many farming families across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, where the WMN is the voice of the rural community.

“We updated the campaign last year, renamed it Think Local and widened its remit to include all local goods and services. It was not driven by the credit crunch so much as the sensible notion that if local people choose local traders and service providers then money earned in the region stays in the region, to the benefit of all. That message has even more relevance now we are officially in recession.”

Philip added: “Good luck to those other titles which have cottoned on to this style of campaigning. Just remember where it began!”

In the original Buy Local campaign, the WMN handed out thousands of stickers to establishments that could prove they served local food, offering a guarantee to customers that they were eating genuine West Country produce.

The updated campaign has seen the launch of a Think Localwebsite which gives people recipes using local food.

Meanwhile continuing the campaign theme, the Westmorland Gazette is running ‘Love Local,’ focusing on businesses, groups and individuals who are going out of their way to support the community.

Each story carried in the weekly paper will be stamped with the Love Local logo and the campaign even received high praise in Parliament after Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron tabled an early day motion, since signed by 19 MPs.

A regular feature of the campaign is ‘Write Up Your Street’ which highlights those shopping streets of the beaten track away from the main High Street which contain small, independent retailers and services.

Some of those featured in the paper contributed to special deals and offers being run in the Gazette.


Mr_Osato (09/02/2009 20:40:50)
Love local’ – by the paper that’s moved its subs out of its patch after more than a century and gotten rid of its local editor/publisher – love it Westmorland Gazette!

tarnshark (10/02/2009 08:23:05)
Man in newspaper said buy local campaign was invented by them.
Tell it to the good burghers who came up with Buy British years ago.
And no doubt the slack jawed apemen who came up with Buy Cro-Magnon before that.
Been going on for years.
Next please!