Friday, 3 May 2013

Treasure of a story buried in the small print

This cracking story from the North Devon Journal, that grew like topsy yesterday, is an excellent example of how important it is for journalists to constantly monitor the community correspondents' section. Over the years I have uncovered some gems - the man who scored two goals on his debut even though he had a wooden leg, the player who scored 14 goals and his team lost, the waitress whose life was saved by a tin of pineapple chunks.
Yesterday's story began as a simple, and very funny, paragraph in the village news section which was Tweeted by head of content Owen Jones. Owen claimed it was the 'best local newspaper WI report ever' ... and who could argue? 
He, and the Journal team, quickly realised the potential of the story and ran the follow-up, along with a picture and some lovely quotes on the thisisnorthdevon website. 

Captain Darch took it all in his stride:  “Of course I didn’t take offence or mind. It was more like the Pirates of Penzance." And the WI treasurer, whose idea it was that the ladies should dress up as pirates, said: “I don’t know who was scarier for Captain Darch - us dressed up as pirates or the real Somali pirates."
Never mind Stuart Hall, the elections, Europa League semi-finals or even the burglar's body found in a chimney in a solicitor's office in Derby. This was the story of the day.

It appeared on every national newspaper website and made its way across the globe within hours. 

The BBC even ran a video.

And of course such a great story was also bound to make it into print in most of today's papers ... a picture lead in The Times no less.

My only disappointment is that it wasn't raised on BBC Question Time last night although, as NDJ production editor Pat Keenor Tweeted today, it did make the Chris Evans Breakfast Show and got a mention on Have I Got News For You.
Great fun, a smart recovery by the NDJ newsroom and a fine example of the importance of scouring the village correspondents, the parish newsletters and classified for stories. 

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