Friday, 28 June 2013

200 years and still as sharp as ever

Congratulations to the staff at the Guernsey Press which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this weekend. Tomorrow it will be publishing a special souvenir issue, including a replica of the first issue from 1813. There is a smashing news clip from Channel TV featuring editor Richard Digard and assistant editor Suzy Heneghan here and loads of great images on its Facebook page

And, just to underline how important the paper is to the island, the Guernsey Post Office is issuing a set of six stamps to commemorate the occasion. Details here
The Guernsey Press (and Star) is one of the regional newspaper industry's success stories. In 1996, when I first visited the paper, it was selling an average of 15,847 copies a day. In the last ABC figures it was 14,794, down by -1.5 per cent year on year. How many other UK daily titles can claim such a sales success over the last 17 years?  And given that the population of the island is 60,000 - how many can claim such a high penetration? Richard puts that down purely to the strength of the community. That has certainly been a major factor - but he is being modest. The Press has long invested in its people and its paper.  

Me with the Guernsey Press school of journalists from 2006. Left to right: Nikki Martel, Rebecca Wightman, Gemma Hockey, me, Shaun Shackleton, Aimee Le Cocq, Zoe Ash, James Falla, Aaron Scoones, Phil Henderson and Simon Tostevin.
I helped it turn from broadsheet to tabloid in 1999 and redesigned the paper again in 2007. I also helped it set up its internal journalism training programme. In all of my many visits what struck me was the commitment, right through the organisation, to quality. It shows in its building and its press investment - but mostly it shows in its journalism and the standard of its paper. Richard and his team simply refuse to compromise when it comes to good journalism. They have steadfastly campaigned on behalf of the island and been prepared to tackle those in power when they needed to. The Press is a first class example of how a regional newspaper can thrive, even in these difficult times. And apart from all that they are a really nice and hospitable bunch. I wish them well as they celebrate the start of their 201st year. I am sure the Sancerre will be flowing.

Sports editor Rob Baptiste with tomorrow's souvenir edition


Saturday, 22 June 2013

When autocheck spells catastrophe

We all know the dangers of the spellcheck - but rarely do we see it result in something quite as catastrophic as this. Apparently, somebody at the Rossendale Free Press, one of the MEN's weekly papers, clicked autocorrect this week and changed the title's name to the Rostellate Free Press.

And to make it even worse, the website became, quite spectacularly, Where on earth did the extra 's' come from?

And I am assured by those who know that Barcus, Crushability and Ratchets are not places in Rossendale - or indeed anywhere. 

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

You've got to be joking here ...

The appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football at Newcastle United has certainly got the Press's creative juices flowing. Kinnear's interview on Talksport (full transcript here courtesy of The Guardian) was comedy gold. He got several names wrong, including Shola Amamobi (Ameobi)  Ben Afri (Hatem Ben Arfa), Yohan Kebab (Yohan Cabaye), Jonas  Galteirez (GutiĆ©rrez) and Derek Lambazee. This inspired the Mirror to run its Kinnear quotes tweets including this one: Kinnear: "I aim to bring back the glory days of Jill 'Gazza' Gascoigne, Supermax, Sid Waddle and the great Jackie Sunburn."
It also led to this Evening Chronicle back page:

The Chronicle also had a bit of Twitter fun, asking fans 'what would Kinnear call you' and getting some excellent responses. It gets worse though. Kinnear claimed that he brought goalkeeper Tim Krul to the club. Krul has been at Newcastle since 2005, three years before Kinnear shipped up on Tyneside. Kinnear also claimed he had never been sacked as a manager. Maybe, but he certainly left Luton abruptly in 2003. On his playing record he said he had played over 400 games for Spurs - records suggest he actually played 196. The Daily Mail neatly turns it all into a true or false game. As you may have gathered there a few truths.
All this left the Chronicle with a dilemma for its front page today. It initially considered running this:

But opted for this:

Both are innovative and well crafted. The blank page is brilliant. The published page will no doubt get the Chron banned from the Press box but it's good to see a paper saying it how it is, and reflecting the fans' views, regardless of the consequences.
One of the best pieces on the whole affair was by George Caulkin of The Times who catalogues the many, many errors in Kinnear's ramblings. It's here ... albeit behind a paywall.
Less articulate - but still funny - is this resurrected video of the fans' reaction when Kinnear first arrived in Tyneside. If you are easily offended, don't watch it.
Where does this leave me? Well, I have followed Newcastle United for 50 years so I know what misery means. Last season I spent a small fortune to watch the team routinely humiliated. The nadir was seeing them capitulate 6-0 to Liverpool at St James's. I had opted for a family occasion and bought hugely expensive tickets for second rate sausage and potatoes and no drink. This season I will watch from the sidelines ... unsure whether to laugh or cry.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

If you are going to say sorry, say it in style

A couple of newspaper apologies caught the eye this week. The top one is from the Brentwood Gazette in which news-editor Chris Richards confesses to being a Goon. 

The other is a lesson, by The Sun, in how to deal with absurd lawyers' letters. Nice touch of humour from both papers.

Meanwhile in Shepton Mallet an alien-related apology made it on to the front page of the Journal. Darth Vader and his pals have apparently been overshadowing the military in a parade through the town. The silly season, it seems, is here.  

Thursday, 13 June 2013

How to turn a routine anniversary into a splash

Here's a nice example of how to turn a wedding anniversary story into something else ... in this case the splash. The couple, Ron Everest and Eileen Campbell, were pictured as a carnival bride and groom 87 years ago, when they were four. Seventeen years later they married and yesterday they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. For many papers it could have been a down-page picture towards the back of the book. For today's Eastern Daily Press, with some great old pictures and anecdotes, it's a splash and a wipe-out of Pages 2 and 3. A first rate mix of nostalgia and human interest ... and only something local newspapers can do.