read all about it - a story from before the smartphone

There's a generation of people now who have never bought a newspaper. Ever. And even for those of us who have it's more an occasional, old skool treat for a train trip or a day sat away from screens. So it's good to be reminded of the sway they once had, and, in some areas, still do...

by GUEST EDITOR Will Mapplebeck

My first job in journalism was with the Westmorland Gazette in Kendal in the Lake District.

God, I was bored. I sometimes joke that I was there for almost three years and absolutely nothing happened.

There was one murder.

It was my week off and I missed it.

New Labour was elected, Princess Diana died, the IRA blew up half of Manchester city centre. There was a palpable sense that Britain could be on the cusp of big change.

But not in Kendal or its picturesque patch which still resembled what George Orwell was talking about when he described 'old maids cycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist'.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

how regional media companies brought themselves down

There's no question the news landscape has changed. But why have the big media companies allowed it to change? And what does the future look like? In this take the National Union of Journalists' Chris Morley poses a few awkward questions.

by Chris Morley

I first started work as a trainee on the Walsall Observer in 1983. At that time it sold about 35,000 copies per week and had an editorial staff of an editor, deputy editor, sports editor, chief reporter, four senior reporters, two photographers and three trainees.

It was the pre-eminent of three weekly newspapers in the borough, holding its own against the mighty dailies of the Wolverhampton Express and Star that had a team of 10 reporters and photographers and the Birmingham Mail that had two reporters.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

disaster verted at local hall - in praise of the spoof local newspaper

Remember local newspapers? You do? You may remember The Framley Examiner. Here's a call for a revival of the  ironic website of the ironic newspaper.

by Dan Slee

Remember Venn diagrams? They're the two circles with two bits overlapping.

If you were to draw one and write 'the internet' under one and 'local newspapers' under the second the bit in the middle there would be written the words 'The Framley Examiner.'

A spoof newspaper, printed and uploaded to the web on microfishe it brilliantly nailed the small town newspaper with no news to report.

It became a web phenomenon in 2004 and in a brilliantly post-modern twist it then became a book.

Whoever wrote it clearly loved the medium.

Not only that, whoever wrote it appreciated the fact that sometimes local newspaper pageleads are, in the parlance, 'jacked up' from very little to pretend to be something approaching a furore to justify page 19.

As a junior reporter I may well have stretched a polite note on a school newslatter to ask parents to pick up crisp packets at the school gate into 'Outraged Head slams litter lout mums.' 

In my dying days as a newspaper reporter the book of the website was passed amongst colleagues as an unofficial style book.

If you've never come across it I heartily recommend you spend some time looking at this most magnificent of online creations.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

'this, children, is how people did protests before facebook'


by Dan Slee

Just recently my Dad moved from the family home after a quarter of a century living in the same place.

Before moved he handed over a treasure trove bin liner of things from my childhood from cycling proficiency certificates, school reports and Subbutteo figures.

Tucked in amongst the haul was two copies of the first newspaper I worked at as an NCTJ-qualified journalist in the mid-1990s.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

knowing your ABC's

by Darren Caveney

The world has never been more full of stats, figures and data. Bank losses, Facebook numbers, job cuts – the list is virtually endless and the transparency agenda has only increased the numbers maze.

Closer to home, our working world’s are also all about metrics, ROI’s, sales figures...

And our home lives are stacked full of numbers too – bank balances, school league tables, weather forecasts, mortgage rates, the price of fish.

Read More