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Dyson at Large: Great stories, well told

Don’t you just love that feeling you get when you spot not one, not two but three headlines on the same front page that make you want to buy a newspaper?

That’s exactly how I felt when I saw the East Anglian Daily Times on Thursday 26 June, immediately fishing £1 from my pocket for the 70p cover price – then forgetting my change, so engrossed was I with the main picture story.

‘Bride Jean, 70, walked down the aisle by her 100-year-old dad Bill’ read the headline to the left of a stand-out picture, directing you to the page three story that surely became the talk of the town.

Then came the hard news splash: ‘Killer must serve at least 17 years in jail’, introducing the sad but readable conviction of a man who’d stabbed his best friend to death.

And the third page one headline that caught my eye was the news boost: ‘Bury MP needs to apologise’, with the main page five story headlined: ‘Grassroots Conservatives set to discuss the fate of MP Ruffley’.

This was obviously an ongoing story, but I enjoyed the detail behind the aptly named MP’s police caution for common assault, and how this allegedly hushed-up incident with an ex-lover was threatening his political career.

I don’t live in the Times’ circulation area, but in reviewing regional papers I take on the role of a local reader and ask: am I being well served?

Already the front page headlines had justified my purchase with a range of good local news, and that was before I continued reading the gems tucked away on inside pages, which included:

  • ‘Horse racing industry in high-visibility protest’ as the picture lead on page four, reporting on an unusual mass ‘ride past’ in Newmarket to register concern about housing plans;
  • ‘National cancer charity award for Abbi after mother’s death’ as the extended picture story on page five, featuring a Stowmarket 11-year-old’s impressive response to tragedy;
  • ‘Men admit to conspiring to burgle 38 schools’ as the lead on page nine, with the crucial detail of all the schools’ locations for readers from 19 local towns in Essex and Suffolk; and
  • ‘Best-paid heads earn more than £100k’ spread across pages 10 and 11, with personal details of the 20 highest-paid headteachers in Suffolk.

As well as plenty of news, I enjoyed the Times’ columnists: Paul Geater, in his ‘Speaker’s Corner’, explaining why there are “frosty” relations between Ipswich and Suffolk; and Liz Nice (‘but not always’) giving her feminist views on her dads versus lads performance at her son’s football picnic.

The little things pleased me too: two-thirds of a page devoted to local, national and global weather details on page two; an entire column of planning applications in small-point on page 27; and a useful ‘Tonight’s television’ panel on the back page in addition to four pages inside.

And I loved the 20-picture ‘where is it?’ quiz on the centre spread of pages 30 and 31, testing readers’ knowledge of the local area: this is the sort of feature that only newspapers can present so well.

There were nearly 200 news, features and sports stories on 50 editorial pages in the 60-page main book, plus scores more if you count all the various listings, race cards and results, topped off with a 36-page property pull-out.

The 100pc paid-for Times, owned by Archant and edited by Terry Hunt, sold an average of 21,827 a day in the most recent ABC audit.