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Ex-editorial director shares ‘reasons to be cheerful’ for industry

Alan GeereThe former editorial director of a regional publisher has offered the regional press some “reasons to be cheerful” after recent cuts.

Alan Geere, left, a former editor of the Essex Chronicle and editorial director of Northcliffe South East, has written a blog urging local journalists to remain upbeat after spending two weeks studying newspapers in the Scottish Highlands.

In the piece, Alan said he had followed recent events in the regional press with “a mix of sadness, bemusement and more than a little irritation.”

Alan also said he was “saddened” to hear about former colleagues leaving in a round of cuts made by Trinity Mirror to its recently-purchased titles in the South-East of England, which Alan previously oversaw during Northcliffe’s ownership.

He added: “Seeing once proud papers reduced to following the crowd online – ‘Watch this dog lick an ice lolly!!’ – makes me fear for the future of journalism as we know it.

“But all is not lost. I’ve just completed two humbling weeks in the Scottish Highlands and there is still a lot to be cheerful about.”

Alan listed his ‘reasons to be cheerful’ after his trip north of the border as follows:

It isn’t all about young people

There were some lovely trainees and people making their way up the greasy ladder but there were more journalists near, and even beyond, what we used to call ‘retirement age’. The years have done nothing to dim their enthusiasm and the experience and maturity they bring doesn’t often get listed in a job ad.

No need to go back to basics

Some are already there. When I asked one dapper gentleman what he did at the paper he proudly replied: “I’m the court reporter.” No lists of mad, sad and bad people provided by some court official here, just stories by the bucketload. So, be warned, if you get caught waving your willy around anywhere from Macduff to Tomintool you’ll probably end up in the paper.

The one-person office is alive and well

The places where people worked read like the lower reaches of the Highland League table – Buckie, Keith, Huntly etc – and it was charming to find they rejoiced under the title ‘Chief Reporter’. Most of the time they were ‘Only Reporter’ filling the paper single-handedly from front to back and all points in between. And they approached that task with deftness, expertise and a sense of responsibility.

Remember staff photographers?

In all the rush to dispense with the staff photographers and replace them with freelancers who bear an uncanny resemblance to the displaced staffers we seem to have lost sight of what having an in-house team can bring. The gala season is in full swing in Scotland so the papers are full of people doing whatever it is you do at a gala – but they all seem to be having fun. They love seeing themselves in the paper and also like to have a pictures to keep. Yes, photosales is alive and well too.

It’s not all about the money

Ok, so we all want what we want and need what we need but there is more to it than that. These folk in the Highlands were actually quite a disparate bunch, some from all parts of Scotland and others further afield in the UK. They were drawn by the opportunity to live in a lovely part of the world and contribute to making the wheels go round in their communities. Not sure money can buy that.


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  • August 3, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Presumably this Ealing Comedy type of existence is with a small local independent publisher?
    A very nice watery eyed piece but hardly relevant to life in the main uk regional press where cost saving,dumbing down and sling it out quick and as cheaply as possible is king.
    Many local independent publishers are thriving across the uk producing established and credible papers and magazines with sustainable revenues,lean and efficient business models,low cost bases and using well connected credible ex regional press staff, taking revenues and market share from the bigger players but sadly the existence Alan recounts here is far removed from the day to day realities of what remains of the industry and tells us nothing we didnt already know and agree should have been done but wasn`t.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Alan is a relentlessly cheerful individual; indeed, it’s being so cheerful what keeps him going. But, then again, he’s not stuck in an under-resourced newsroom with one rookie reporter and an online assistant these days. That may explain a lot.

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  • August 3, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    I am one of those working on weekly in Scotland. Just two of us or one at holiday time. Its a good life court, all the usual stuff, great when we scoop a daily and do our own pics and they’re good even footie action. I was out of it for 12 years, things have changed but hey embrace the change in management speak. There are much worse things to do the moaners on here should try some of them.

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