A regional daily which campaigned for its patch to become UK City of Culture put a brave face on this morning after missing out on the title.
The Sunderland Echo described the city it serves as “packed with culture” on its front page, despite the crown for 2021 going to Coventry.
The Echo last month made a front page plea to judges after supporting the bid since it launch, while staff changed their Twitter profile pictures to the colours of the campaign to help keep it in the forefront of readers’ minds.
The newspaper produced a special report offering reaction from bid chiefs, judges and readers after last night’s announcement.
In the winning city, the Coventry Telegraph dedicated much of its website’s homepage to the announcement. It had run a special online channel during the bidding process.
Telegraph editor Keith Perry told HTFP: “We have been proudly backing the bid right from the start. Two of the driving forces behind the bid came to see me in 2015 and explained what they were planning to do and wanted to know if I thought it was a good idea and if the Telegraph would get behind it.
“It was an easy choice as even if we didn’t end up winning, it was obvious that there would an enormous positive impact on the city. The bid has brought lots of different groups together already and winning gives everyone in the city a focal point to rally around.
“During the bidding process we have published scores of positive stories online and in print which all speak with pride about the city and what is has to offer and we have shone a light on some of our lesser known cultural gems.
“We had two stories ready to publish online last night, while also covering the announcement through a live blog. Thankfully, the judges made the right decision and we could use the story we wanted to run. We now look forward to having the world sent to Coventry in 2021.”
On missing out on the title, Echo managing editor Gavin Foster said: “We’ve supported the bid from the start. Two years ago there were a lot of descending voices in the city, but we were determined to champion the culture bid and champion Sunderland, doing what local newspapers do best.
“We were all gutted not to win of course, but this bid has seen some amazing things happen in Sunderland in those two years. It’s galvanised a community into believing a once great city could be so again.
“This is very much the beginning of a journey for Sunderland. There are so many things already planned for 2018, including The Tall Ships Races, the opening of our new Northern Spire Bridge and much, much more. As a local paper we will continue to support this drive to make the city a better place for those who live here and those who will come to the fantastic things on offer.”
Wrote Martin: “We’ve published almost 500 articles – in paper and online – showcasing the bid and the area. We’ve shot films to thaw the most cynical of hearts, thrown the kitchen sink at social media, and produced two brilliant bespoke publications highlighting our heritage and culture and celebrating local life and local people.
“We’ve done this because we think it’s our job to champion our patch and to challenge negative perceptions – particularly those foisted upon Stoke-on-Trent by national media and national broadcasters in the wake of the Brexit vote.
“We’ve done it so that we can have an honest conversation about some of the serious problems facing our city – from high levels of childhood obesity and workless households to low levels of academic attainment.
“We’ve a lot to be proud of and rest assured that your Sentinel will continue to shine a light on everything that’s great about Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, the Staffordshire Moorlands and beyond.”