We can only imagine how hard it must have been to create this new publication from scratch:
- negotiating paper, printing and transport costs;
- employing and paying journalists and distributors;
- selling adverts and arranging copy sales; and
- project-managing to meet finance, editorial, print and on-sale deadlines.
Despite what must have been such a stressful start-up operation, it was impressive that Phil and his team also generated at least four hard news stories worthy of the splash on Friday 24 April.
‘NHS nurse forced to sleep in car’ was the right lead choice for its originality and genuine human interest pulling power – and it made a great headline.
The only weakness in the full story on page 13 was that the nurse didn’t want his identity revealed, but there was so much detail about his personal crisis that it still made a riveting read.
Even without that homeless nurse, any of the following could have easily made the splash:
- ‘Anger as parking charges almost double’ that was teased above the masthead, with the full story on page seven;
- ‘Traders’ anger at roadworks’ that was boosted in the right-hand column, then making the lead on page three; and
- ‘Campaigners to picket nail bar over refusal to serve disabled woman’ that made the page four lead.
The picture of the disabled woman in that nail bar story could perhaps have been a write-off on page one, as it’s always good to have a human image for readers to focus on when they pick up a paper.
But on balance, the ‘Standby for action!’ emergency exercise was probably a good choice for colour and vibrancy, despite a clichéd headline.
The Wokingham Paper, born after Trinity Mirror’s cutbacks and online focus created space in the Berkshire market, had more than 220 reports on 40 pages, which is pretty good going for a cover price of 50p.
As well as 13 pages of news, well-planned inside sections included a comprehensive elections spread on pages 14 and 15, a busy editorial, comment and letters spread on pages 16 and 17, and a decent ‘Wokingham Remembers’ nostalgia spread on pages 18 and 19.
‘To your good health’ was a positive feature about local hospital staff on page 20, and I enjoyed Vivienne Johnson’s focus on the charity efforts of former pop star Kim Wilde in her ‘The good life’ column on page 22.
There were then seven pages of leisure features, listings and puzzles before The Wokingham Paper was rounded off with a healthy eight-page sports section.
Phil Creighton and his team – shown above in a modest page five picture story – deserve all the luck in the world for what now needs to become an ink-on-paper commercial success as well as serving the good people of Wokingham borough.
For that to happen they must attract more than the 17 adverts I counted in this issue, and so let’s hope plenty of applicants apply for these advertising staff jobs.
Footy note: In case you wondered who the ‘Super Sumas’ boost refers to on page one, it’s the shortened nickname of ‘The Satsumas’, aka Wokingham and Emmbrook FC, a reference to the team’s colours.