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Editor hits back at silly season claims

An editor has hit back at claims that he is taking the silly season to extremes by printing stories about out-of date pasties and toilet lights being left on.

Northcliffe weekly title The Folkestone Herald carried the headline ‘Out-of-date pasty sold by Folkestone 99p Store fed to two-year-old’ on 26 August.

The story, along with one about some lights being left on in a public toilet for two years, was picked up by media bloggers and readers who branded them non-news stories.

But the editor of the Northcliffe-owned title – which is the process of being sold to the rival the KM Group – defended the light-hearted news agenda as a “harmless bit of fun.”

Editor of nine years, Simon Finlay, said: “I received abuse from members of the public, asking why I had put the pasty story on the front page. I didn’t have the heart to tell them we didn’t have anything else.”

Despite this, Simon said the story was in fact a page three story as the edition was contained within a wrap-around which carried a stronger story about the return of the Folkestone airshow.

Said Simon: “We put something lighter and generally not too heavy on page three.”

He added that the story had already been in the public domain for six days before it was reported on.

On the newspaper’s website, one reader commented: “I’m guessing the lack of comments on this article is because everyone agrees this article is a waste of everyone’s time.

“Why would you even bother wasting your time writing this article? Two minutes of my life I will never get back.”

But Simon hit back saying: “Any publicity is good publicity. I don’t mind, I will take any criticism.

“If people want to waste moments of their life moaning about a pasty, that’s up to them. It’s a harmless bit of fun.”

26 comments

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  • September 9, 2011 at 9:48 am
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    Eh?. A non-story about an editor who runs a six-day old non-story on P1 which is really P3 because the best story is on a the front of a paid-for wrap-round and he hasn’t got anything better. HFTP must be holidaying in Folkestone, the land that news forgot.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 9:57 am
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    Eh? Can this really be the same Simon Finlay? I can’t believe he’s rolling out the ‘It’s all we had, guv’ excuse!

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:05 am
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    Never run shop and restaurant complaint stories or “I’m still waiting for the tradesman.” type articles. The time wasted on these can be better utilised finding a better story than an out of date pasty.
    The public toilet light that never goes off you can get away with in these energy-saving, cuts days.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:19 am
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    Out of date pasties might sound like a blessing once we start wallowing in wall-to-wall 9/11 ten-year anniversary mediafest.
    Yes, it was a cruelly historic event and ten years on we all still feel immense sympathy for the families of victims. But there is nothing significant about the tenth anniversary, it’s just a number.
    But why (apart from easy copy) does the national media go so overboard on anniversary miseryfests? (remember Saint Diana?).
    In terms of families having to live with it all, there is no difference between the tenth anniversary, the ninth or the 11th.
    Whatever the talking heads say won’t bring back their loved ones.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:19 am
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    I am intensely annoyed by this publicity-seeking farrago.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:24 am
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    Reminds me of my local paper days when a man came in wanting me to write a story about how a butcher had sold him pork instead of beef and he’d put it in a casserole and his kids couldn’t eat it.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:28 am
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    A shocking endictment summed up in five words: “We didn’t have anythig else.” So what had the staff been playing at all week?

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:37 am
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    Simon Finlay says: “If people want to waste moments of their life moaning about a pasty, that’s up to them.” Maybe he’s talking about the people who commented on the story but it reads like he’s criticising the woman who was featured in it. Downright rude. I bet she’s really glad she contacted her local paper.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:40 am
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    Entirely agree with Ex-Insider. Surely any editor who gives a hoot about his paper would, upon hearing this was the only story in the locker, tell his reporters to hit the streets and find a front page story worthy of the name?

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:43 am
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    Ah, okay. Re-read the story above and saw it was a page three story, not the front page. My mistake. I still think Simon Finlay’s comments (and the story itself) are not a great reflection on him or his publication.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:48 am
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    We beat that. We had a kid losing a teddy bear at a station. Front taster, inside story, web lead and follow up on front when kid given a replacement.
    Riveting!!

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:50 am
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    The out-of-date pasty complaint would make an interesting NIB column lead but the light-left-on-for-two-years yarn should be a page lead on a quiet week. Both these ‘light’ stories depend on how they are written and, sadly, a lot of today’s young graduate reporters are not being shown how to get the best out of their material.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 10:59 am
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    Stuart, it wasn’t page three, it was a splash. It was under the Folkestone Herald masthead. KRN’s daft policy of semi-wrapping their front papers means each edition has two front pages (once you take the wrap off you are presented with the ‘real’ front page. Hard to explain, but hopefully you get the gist).

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  • September 9, 2011 at 11:28 am
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    What goes around, comes around Simon. Et tu Brute!

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  • September 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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    Don’t know quite where to go on this one – only to say stuff the so-called bloggers and citizen journalists. It must have been a story to create so much interest ! So it can’t be a non-event.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm
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    Agree old hack. Leave the paper and its editor alone and let the anonymous “experts” stew in their own juice. We printed a story the other week with the headline “Man seen in Leicester” (the word “missing” had dropped off the start of the headline but the public didn’t know).
    No complaints.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm
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    I recently saw a picture page lead in the Reading Post by a reporter with a sub-byline ‘silly season reporter’ about a cat stuck up a tree. He finished the story encouraging readers to send in more similar tales of woe. I guess the real story that went unreported was the cost to the tax payer of getting the fire brigade out to get the kitty down when a tin of tuna might have done the trick!

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  • September 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm
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    My Favourite of all time… Giant chopper stays the night in Audenshaw… about a helicopter grounded in the East Manchester suburb and printed in the Ashton u Lyne Reporter, many years ago.

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  • September 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm
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    Love it.. part of the defence is “the story had been in the public domain for six days before we published it.”
    Is this some sort of ironic double bluff…tell you what, we ran an awful story, and when we are critcisied by the people who keep us in jobs, ie readers, we will extend the joke and double bluff them by making our excuse as bad as possible.
    Comedy genius

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  • September 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm
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    It’s the modern scourge the wrap, isn’t it? At least it sounds like the Herald actually had some edit space for the other story that was the splash or wasn’t the splash because the page theree story which appeared on what seemed to be the splash was in fact the page three or not depending on how you look at it.
    Now I am wasting “moments of my life” on so I’m going to go and do some work.

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  • September 12, 2011 at 9:45 am
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    It was August 25 not 26. The story about the toilet lights being left on (printed a good few weeks beforehand) was the fact they had not been off for 10 years, therefore wasting a good deal of taxpayers’ money. The Telegraph thought that enough of a story to report on it the next day.
    The splash was the airshow, an exclusive story which ran on the wrap, and the pasty had not been in the public domain for six days before the Herald reported it but six days before HTFP reported on it – maybe someone should check his or her shorthand!

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  • September 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm
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    @ Eleanor – I think you have to look at the fact that the Herald actually ran a story about an out-of-date pasty, regardless of whether it was the splash or not. Maybe someone should check their news sense…

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  • September 19, 2011 at 4:25 pm
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    I worked alongside Simon at Sport Newspapers and know him to be a first-class newsman. The pasty tale was not his finest hour, but it’s like Simon to come out fighting and defend his corner – “any publicity is good publicity, harmless bit of fun” etc. Keep your head up, Simon, don’t let the sneers get you down!

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  • September 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm
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    Keep your head up Simon, you can bounce back from this. I have bounced back throughout my career.

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  • September 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm
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    I agree with the last two comments. Not a great story, wrap or no wrap although it serves the p0urpose of asking the question of why a mother would be feeding a child 99p pasties! I’m sure Mark and John are much too sophisicated to feed such muck to their children.

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  • November 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm
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    Goodness me.

    Can this be the same Simon Finlay (aka Finbarr Hatte-Stand) who, during its anarchic heyday, was a star reporter on the Sunday Sport?

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