If there ever was a ‘silly season’ for news, it seemed to have been ignored by the Daily Post in North Wales.
LAUGHING ROBBERS JAILED
… screamed its front page on Thursday 27 August, cleverly using those three words to grab readers’ attention by telling a court story in a different way.
It worked for me: I was actually perusing weeklies in the Beddgelert newsagent, but bought the Post on the strength of that headline.
The sub-heading went on to tell how a village postmaster and his wife ‘threw meat scales at masked pair before they escaped in disability car’ during the raid in Llangernyw, near Abergele.
The daily’s full story on page five then took readers in yet another direction with the tempting headline: ‘I wish I’d hit him harder’.
The in-depth court report – from 82-year-old veteran agency operator Derek Bellis – then ran over 26 paragraphs, and included a picture of the local heroes behind their counter.
This is the way to project, tell, retell and package such a good story, and it was impressive to see a daily paper in 2015 doing this several times on the same day – and all starting on page one.
Hundreds in tearful farewell to brave Charlotte
… read the top-left boost, pointing to a page three package on how the teenager had bravely faced 30 operations in her short life. The top-right boost took readers in another direction with:
Caernarfon’s £2m train station … first picture
… teasing the designer’s vision that was displayed on page 15, and then:
Viking treasure found in Gwynedd
… did it again, the full story on how the hoard of ancient coins had been discovered in a field running on page six.
All three of the above boosts could have made a splash on a different day, and the way they were packaged on page one pointed to an acute sense of news at the Post.
‘That’s what newspapers are supposed to do’, some might say, but I think it’s a skill far too often removed from the front pages of regional dailies.
Away from page one, there were several other strong stories that started on inside pages, including:
- ‘Illegal cocklers face shelling out £50k’ leading page four;
- ‘Danger boats warning after fisherman’s death horror’ leading page seven;
- ‘Anger as cuts threaten another iconic bridge’ leading page 11; and
- ‘Seagulls’ licence to attack’ leading page 12, with the sub-heading ‘Cash-strapped councils can’t afford to tackle the menace’.
Also impressive was the Post’s long list of patch reporters, reminding readers who’s charged with covering their local areas: four for Gwynedd, three for Conwy, two for each of the Anglesey, Wrexham and Flintshire areas, and one for Denbighshire, as well as specialists covering politics, business, arts and farming.
Does all this make a difference? Well, it’s certainly no surprise to find the Post’s sales are holding up relatively well in comparison to most regional dailies.
They’re still falling, of course, but this has consistently been single percentage declines, and the remaining circulation of 24,505 (98pc paid-for) sounds good going for a paper that’s spread across such a rural area, especially when its Liverpool twin sister went weekly in 2011, eventually closing nearly two years ago.
If anything can be criticised, I thought the Trinity Mirror-owned Post, with a cover price of 65p, was a little thin for a Thursday, although its 48-page book managed to carry around 200 reads on 40 editorial pages; and the next day’s edition was a much-thicker 72 pages.
At a time when so much attention quite rightly has to be invested into digital development, it was refreshing to see a daily regional so committed to displaying its printed news.