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Judith Halliday

Celebrities And Small Businesses

Which would you rather read about?

Posted on: 30/01/2012   By: Judith Halliday

Did you see the regional newspaper editors' evidence at the Leveson Inquiry a week or so ago? Actually, I already pretty much know the answer to that one - no, you didn't ...

local papers offer local news for local people

local papers offer local news for local people

Hard to understand why, really, when the whole inquiry has been dominating the headlines. Day after day of Hugh Grant and Kelvin Mackenzie, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church. The editors of Heat, OK and Hello were in the news when they appeared, as was Ian Hislop, who was particularly interesting because he bucked the trend and talked a lot of sense.

So what happened to the coverage of the local newspaper editors? Mike Gilson from the Belfast Telegraph, David Brookes of the Birmingham Mail, Peter Charlton of the Yorkshire Post? The answer is, the national media doesn't think the regional media is of any interest to anyone.

Ignoring the irony of the fact that an inquiry centred around celebrities' privacy being unfairly invaded is being covered by media organisations that are only interested in celebrities, the truth is that somewhere in the background, behind the red top tabloids and the self-important TV news crews, there's a lot of bloody hard work going on in the regional press.

It's an industry that is so badly under threat of cutbacks and falling sales, and yet it continues to bring the news stories that matter to local people, to local people. It makes mistakes, it may not be the quality journalism of the likes of the Daily Telegraph, but it's there to shed light on its community.

While the likes of Heat and the Daily Mail obsess endlessly over the diminishing and expanding waistlines of former Big Brother contestants, the regional press is busy serving us, the regional people.

Sometimes, it's not the most interesting news in the world, but sometimes, it offers the push a campaign or a group needs to really change the way things are done in their community. Either way, it matters to someone, somewhere that their piece of news gets out into the public eye - presenting a cheque for £400 to a hospice isn't going to go global, but it matters a lot to the group that ran the coffee morning that raised that money.

If a local business wins a big new contract, it won't think to ring Hello magazine and its press release probably wouldn't even get noticed by the business editor of The Times, but the local paper will celebrate with them and tell the local business world what a great achievement it really is.

Local newspapers are there for a purpose. Not sensationalism, not speculation or titillation, just working hard to bring what's going on around their patch to the notice of their readers.

We should celebrate them and use them while we can. Who knows how much longer we'll have them? And when we're gone we're going to be left with little to read but the latest revelations about Cheryl Cole's hair extensions. God help us all!

Until next time ...


More about Judith Halliday ...

My writing career began under the bright lights of Gateshead in 1986 - who wouldn't love a job that offered the chance to listen to Gateshead Borough Council's Public Waste Committee debate the introduction of wheelie bins for three hours? It was the start of a working life that taught me what makes a good story and how to tell it and, although I don't have a news editor lurking ready to throw things at me any more, or so much of an interest in wheelie bins, my love of writing and a fascination with talking to people and telling their stories is as strong as ever.

Today I work for Business Times in Northampton and the Northants Evening Telegraph as well as providing copywriting services and press releases for a number of local companies.

When I'm not doing that, I indulge in the things I love most, which include, in no particular order: my teenage children, Sunderland football club, my husband, chocolate, QI, Chinese noodles, my closest friends, Test Match Special, red wine, reading in bed, The Sound of Music and growing vegetables.


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