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Good news weekly ‘slaughtered’ at launch to celebrate first anniversary

A weekly that says it was “slaughtered” for not being a ‘real newspaper’ when it first launched is set to celebrate its first anniversary.

HTFP reported last year how three former Hartlepool Mail staffers – news editor Steve Hartley, picture editor Dirk Van Der Werff and newspaper sales manager Paul Healey – had launched Hartlepool Life, along with two businessmen, after the idea was conceived at a monthly get-together of ex-Mail employees.

Editorially, it focuses on good news about people, businesses and schools in the Hartlepool area. and was slated for “seeing life through rose-tinted spectacles.”

But since its launch, Hartlepool Life has taken on 18 people, including journalists, and is now distributed at 200 locations.

Hartlepool Life

Dirk told HTFP: “We are going from strength to strength after a roller-coaster ride over the last 12 months.

“We were slaughtered online as not being a ‘real newspaper’ by ex-colleagues and other journalists. We were ‘happy clappy’ and ‘seeing life through rose-tinted spectacles’. Well, we’re still here.

“The public love our positive outlook – and the advertisers do too as their products and services are not up against doom and gloom and negativity, or one punch knockouts and crack-cocaine trials.

He added: “We are employing many experienced journalists now – and advertising staff – and have also given four journalism degree students in the town and surrounding area jobs too.

“None of them had ever been employed as journalists after qualifying up to two and a half years ago. Some are freelances, some are working for two or three days a week as staff.”


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  • March 12, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Meanwhile, the bad (real) news – which, let’s face it, usually includes the stuff that is more important to people – gets ignored. Hmmm…

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  • March 12, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    GladimOutofit. I am a hard news fan, but do not see that is necessarily real news, just different news. There are people who tell me constantly they are sick of reading about perverts, murderers, car crashes, criminals etc and want to see some of the milk of human kindness. If this succeeds because it is different who cares if it has no hard news? Some people get by without it.

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  • March 13, 2018 at 9:12 am

    GladImOutOfIt … says it all to be honest !

    Our local newspaper had 130 + years to report bad news, which it still does with abandon. Sadly for them, their readers have abandoned them wholesale over the years – along with the readers of a hundred other regional newspapers.
    We are a FREE local community newspaper that is doing things different.
    I am a HUGE fan of local democracy and holding the council and the police and quangos and other public bodies to account, which we do not do with this newspaper – but we have never said that we won’t hold them to account one day.
    We are employing 18 people including out of work journalists and newly qualified journalists – what did you do today ?
    Small steps …. bit by bit.

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  • March 20, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Surely it’s about balance. There’s nothing wrong with a community newspaper that actively seeks to report a high proportion of good news, even to splash on it most of the time. A constant onslaught of death and destruction can become tiresome and, in an age where people are more cynical about journalists’ motives, give readers the impression that the paper is just looking for things to complain about.

    So as long as a paper focuses on “good news” stories with genuine editorial merit (i.e. not just puff pieces for its advertisers) then all power to its elbow. It’ll probably connect well with its community. But at the same time, you can’t just pretend bad things don’t happen – whether it be a mass round of layoffs at a major local employer, dodgy dealings in a council planning department, miscarriages of justice or, yes, unpleasant and possibly disturbing crimes against innocent people.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s still a good newspaper’s job – or even duty – to open the public’s eyes to these things and be willing to look beyond the “official line”. Most people are too busy with jobs and families to hold power to account but a well-run newspaper can still do that.

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  • March 22, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Jimbledon. Journos hate to admit it but a paper is a product, like selling a bar of soap. The old mix is not working. Worth trying a new sort of product.
    In any event all the death and disaster and misery has been reported online, on tv and on radio long before a local paper hits the streets. On my regional tv station I once saw four consecutive crime stories, all no doubt fed by the cops press office. Do people really want this diet of doom?

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