Monday 20 December 2010

Quotes of the Year: The Regional Press

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year I am chosing some of the best quotes of the year. Today they are on the regional press.

Peter Preston in the Observer: "A truly local paper is like a policeman on his beat (or that family doctor). It's what helps local life go around. It opens a world of possibilities. And – golly! – it's more important than 30% profit margins. Or, at least, it damned well should be."

Editorial consultant Peter Sands on why the Express & Star, Wolverhampton, is the top selling regional newspaper: "It has resisted the trend to turn evening newspapers into mornings (a misguided mantra by van drivers in suits purporting to be circulation managers). If something happens in the morning it will be in the paper, and the readers know that. The morning newspaper market is a crowded place where readers have ten papers to choose from, the evening market is an exclusive zone. Where would you rather be?"

Ian Herbert in the Independent about the bitterness felt by the Manchester Evening News staff over its sale by Guardian Media Group: "The abiding sense among MEN staff that The Guardian occupies another world to them was never felt more acutely than when the journalists from the Manchester trade union chapel headed to London last year for a crucial meeting with their highly supportive Guardian counterparts - only to be told that they must wait around for a meeting room to become free, as it was being used for a yoga class."

Salisbury Journal editor Bill Browne on HoldtheFrontPage after online story 'Dog injures nose' gets record web traffic:"It's the biggest thing since I had two concrete badgers nicked from a doorstep in Basingstoke when I edited the Basingstoke Gazette... I understand from the newsdesk that it was a fairly slow news day on Saturday."

Frank le Duc, ex-deputy editor of The Argus, Brighton, on this blog: "Newsquest has used a salami slicing technique which has its limitations. You can slice the salami only so many times before there’s no meat left. Perhaps more aptly you can cut the cost of feeding your goose but don’t be surprised if it keeps laying fewer golden eggs until you end up strangling the scraggy old bird."

Paul Bentham, managing director of Johnston Press' South Yorkshire titles, in a memo: "The number of staff authorised to 'order out' pages should be kept to a minimum and Editors need to ensure that the policy of "right first time" is embedded in the newsroom culture. They should not however continue with the old practise of reading every story. Editors should evaluate the risk for each story based on content and the seniority of the journalist and act accordingly."

Press Gazette's Grey Cardigan on that memo: "Suggesting that an editor need not glance over every story in their newspaper is utter madness. The lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee. Does this silly man know nothing about newspapers? Perhaps in Mr. Bentham's barmy new world, not only are subs expendable but editors too. He's not really thought this through, has he? Because if there's no editor patrolling the proofs, who's going to end up before the beak for contempt when a cock-up saunters through? Yes, you, Mr. Bentham."
  • Paul Bentham left Johnston Press this month

Blunt on the Playing the Game blog: "Nowadays we call these people 'community correspondents', we are their 'mentors' and the whole thing has the twee title of 'citizen journalism'. It's all part of the great hyperlocal plan - reporting down your local street. But shouldn't your 'local' paper already be covering each of the areas. Oh hang on, didn't all the reporters get fired already?"

Steve Dyson on his blog calls for the regional press to ban all sex ads: "Why, oh why, is the most family-orientated media in Britain sullying itself by accepting classified adverts for massage parlours that it at least suspects are in certain cases informal brothels?"

Communites Secretary Eric Pickles tells councillors at the London Councils Summit: "I think it is is important to have vibrant local newspapers in order for you to be more accountable. To me, the kind of problem I faced when I looked at one particular set of London [council] newspapers was that they talked about them being the 'local independent voice'. Clearly, if you are funded by the local council you are not the local independent voice. What we need is the voice of independent local newspapers bringing you to account."

Allan Prosser in InPublishing magazine on subbing hubs: "In the Gadarene rush to impose manufacturing process on their titles, publishers have destroyed value, thrown away knowledge, and vandalised their assets. In many cases they should be ashamed, not that shame is a common characteristic of the newspaper business. More importantly, very few managers who have overseen this damage would last a week in the real world of competitive industry."

Pic: Birmingham Mail newspaper seller (Jon Slattery)

Tomorrow: The General Election

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