An independent weekly has predicted a grim future for its patch in a splash inspired by an American newspaper.
The Camden New Journal took inspiration from the Boston Globe for its front page last week after several recent stabbings and murders in the area of London which it serves.
Last year the Globe ran a splash with the headline ‘We know what will happen next’ which predicted coverage of a future spree shooting following a seemingly inevitable cycle of such mass killings on school and university campuses in the USA.
The New Journal ran with the same headline on Thursday, along with its own tragic future prediction, following the death of a young man called Calvin Bungisa in Gospel Oak last Monday.
Deputy editor Richard Osley told HTFP: “Every murder is depressing, a waste of a life, and as a newsroom, we are seeing the same tragedy unfold over and over again, and thought it was time to do something different.
“This is because we hear the same words after every one of these cases, but nothing ever seems to change. It gets worse, if anything.”
Little more than a year ago, two young men were stabbed to death on the same evening in Kentish Town, half a mile apart, with others who were attacked surviving.
A few months before, a young Somali man on the New Journal’s patch was killed in broad daylight, becoming the third member of his family to die in stabbings in Camden, while earlier this year Bright Akinlele, another stabbing victim, staggered through Euston before dying in a hotel foyer.
Added Richard: “In Regent’s Park two weeks ago, just a few roads out of our patch, another young man died near the mosque there. It’s so frustrating to see the same thing over and over again – for people to say ‘enough is enough’ but then life moving on until the next one.
“The aim of the front page was to show how repetitious this tragedy is, how something needs to be done to break the cycle – something out of the ordinary, we hope. We are concerned that people may becoming desensitised to this, given how many times we all pick up a paper in London and read about a stabbing. That knives and murder are no longer out of the ordinary.
“We hope the Boston Globe feel the flattery, of inspiring our own ‘cover version’. We have seen people stop at the dispensers and have a good look at the front page. We’ve had a batch of messages, emails and tweets, saying thanks for trying to move the debate forward, and showing that we all have to do more to tackle this and not accept it as part and parcel of living here.
“I think the reaction shows that a strong, thoughtful front page can still grab attention and be part of the debate, regardless of what is being said about the local newspaper industry. I also think for journalists reporting murder cases like this, we have to get away from quickfire stories that begin: ‘This is the first picture of XXX’, as if swiping a photo from Facebook is more important than reporting on what’s happened and trying to understand why.”
However, Richard admitted the splash had received some criticism.
He said: “One reader did phone up and say she would never read the paper again because there is a line on the front which suggests that the knife crime debates which sometimes follow these murders are often, politically, longer when the victim is white.
“But this is so indisputable that it is hardly controversial; it’s certainly not controversial to wonder how things may have been treated, politically at least and by the national media, if 30 young white men had died in London already this year.”