AddThis SmartLayers

‘What next for local newspapers?’ Editor gazes into abyss

The editor of an axed Kent newspaper has described staring into an ‘abyss’ as she wonders what is next for the industry.

Christine Rayner, editor of the 156-year-old East Kent Gazette, shared her views with readers in a letter printed in a special souvenir edition of the paper this week.

The Gazette was one of two weekly titles closed by Northcliffe Media following a failed deal to sell seven Kent titles to rival the KM Group following an intervention from competition watchdogs.

Christine tells how she walked into the newsroom of the smoke-filled Chatham News in 1974 and began her job as a trainee reporter.

She wrote: “The world of local journalism did not fail in its promise to excite, delight and entertain me and has continued to do so for more than 36 years.

“My first connection with the East Kent Gazette was in April 1979 when I joined as chief reporter. I was newly married and had returned to Kent after a brief period working in London.

“Since then I have continued to work on the Swale titles and made my way up through the ranks to editor, taking over from John Rogers in November 1995. I was the company’s first woman editor and am immensely proud to have served the community for 32 years.

“Now as the Gazette and its sister paper the Medway News stand on the brink of extinction, I gaze into the abyss and wonder what will come next – both for me and for the world of local newspaper journalism.

“Life will most certainly be strange without being first to know what’s going on in the borough. I firmly believe I have had the perfect job, paid for being nosy.

“It’s also been a fantastic way of meeting amazing people, supporting campaigns, righting wrongs and just telling the world of the quirky, delightful and deserving things that go on in any community.”

“So, as this final edition goes to press, my thanks to everyone with whom I have had contact over the years, I couldn’t have done my job without you.”

Christine hopes to develop a memories website to continue the nostalgia pages she worked on for 20 years.

This week the KM Group announced it was to launch a new paid-for title covering the same patch as the one covered by the East Kent Gazette.

The new title – the Sittingbourne News Extra – will go on sale next Wednesday with a cover price of 65p.

Read the full letter here.

6 comments

You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • December 9, 2011 at 10:36 am
    Permalink

    I’ve looked into my crystal ball and seen a sparse newsroom of bored, tired reporters, never leaving their chairs as they cut and paste emails from various local organisations. Making tea and storing rubbish in the room which was once the photographic department. They have all since left after it seemed a good idea to just use pictures which people email in. Thus the paper looks a bit shoddy, and no-one wants to buy it anymore. Nor does anyone want to advertise next to a photo which aunty took at the knitting fair. Quick, make someone redundant to counteract the revunue fall!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • December 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm
    Permalink

    Paid for being nosy? Yes indeed. As a journalist of similar longevity I count myself lucky to have had more than 30 years feeding my curiosity.
    I am still a working news editor but in the current climate that could change overnight. I feel sorry for those young enthusiastic hacks who come into an industry which has changed beyond all recognition. What fun they’ll have missed!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • December 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm
    Permalink

    I see a future of very low quality newspapers circulating around. The problem recently seems to be too much time spent retyping a press release or email from various local organisations, and using the poor quality photo which is supplied with it. Nobody wants to buy a paper which looks like an amateur effort, and advertisers certainly don’t want their expensive advert sat next to a pic somebody took on a mobile phone. If you are lucky enough to have a staff photographer, use them! Image is everything in todays markets.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • December 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm
    Permalink

    Perhaps if journalists and editors had not spent the past 20 years with their heads buried in the sand and had actually done something about the collapsing economic model that everybody knew would lead us to this point, the industry would not be staring into the abyss.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • December 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm
    Permalink

    such a shame when a journo with such passion for the job has to bow out.
    The difference between now and old-style journalism is then we worked damned hard and had fun.
    Now we just work hard.
    And it was going that way long before the nation started paying for its collective greed big time.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
Take part in our Reader Survey here