Whoever’s responsible for the headlines in the Ulster Star, they seem to know how to write them.
‘Hilden Mill gutted in ferocious blaze’ read the splash on Friday 13 March, with ‘Tributes paid to Lord Molyneaux’ as the second lead.
This short, succinct and active style continued into the copy, with the main story’s first par reading: ‘One of Lisburn’s most historic buildings was gutted on Sunday night when fire swept through the Barbour Threads Mill at Hilden.
Wherever you looked on page one, you were met with the same type of crystal clear entry points: ‘Jenny Palmer: Show of support as councillor faces disciplinary action’; ‘Schools’ Cup: Wallace men aim to make history’; and ‘It’s time to get voting – Chip Shop of the Year 2015’.
The same care seemed to be devoted to most stories on inside pages, with the best headlines – and punchy, interesting stories – including:
- ‘Fees hike just isn’t cricket for Derriaghey club’ leading page five;
- ‘Woman denies the murder of her child’ leading page seven;
- ‘From frumpy to yummy mummy for Miriam’ leading page 11;
- ‘Beauties flock to Lisburn heat of Miss Northern Ireland contest’ leading page 23; and
- ‘Meet Wallace High’s cup final hopefuls’ leading the picture spread on 27 players on pages 32 and 33.
Leaving readers in little doubt about what they are about to read is always a good idea, although too many local papers tend to tie themselves up in stale headlines.
The Star is a Johnston Press title, and the group should nurture the skills of the wordsmith praised above, for both print and web, as his or her work is also hitting SEO criteria on most occasions.
Perhaps it’s all got something to do with Damian Wilson, listed on page two and on the lisburntoday.co.uk website as the title’s ‘Multi-Media Content Editor’ – although I think plain ‘editor’ without any initial capitals would read better.
The Star’s price, however, seems too high for the page and story-count: £1.40 to casual readers for a 64-page book containing around 160 stories on 52 editorial pages.
Indeed, my contact in Lisburn who sent me the paper commented that it was “a mere shell of the thick weekly that was in the house when I was young”.
But given the Star only sells around 5,000 copies a week (5,668 when it was last audited in 2012) at least its quality has been maintained, if not its volume.