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From Jenny G

Friday, 25 September 2015

Is it time for someone / a community group to start up a genuinely local not-for-profit weekly broadsheet? :-) ie, a printed-on-paper version, no disrespect for this estimable website, neither for the wonderful monthly yellow/pink page of events someone compiles. Anyone been to Ullapool recently? They have had a local stapled-together not-for-profit weekly rag for years. Don't know if they still have. It's about 18 months since I was last up there.

From Vikki Uttley

Saturday, 3 October 2015

What a great idea, for a local paper, in the seventies Rochdale had RAP, Rochdale Alternative Press, it was a 'no holds barred' small publication but it was ground breaking. As residents we got to know what was really going on in our town, and further afield. Nothing was off limits,  Dave Bartlett who ran the paper edited with fairness but was fearless in his reportage. Ace.

From Kez Armitage

Sunday, 4 October 2015

A local independent paper is a great idea, particularly in a place like Hebden Bridge.

The Rochdale Alternative Press was quite groundbreaking, exposing, as it did, the Cyril Smith scandal well ahead of the national press.

The only two caveats are a) you need the funding and b) in these litigious times, you need a good solicitor to cast their eye over your copy.

I notice that the Hebden Bridge Times and Todmorden News are amalgamating from next week. That means less news for both towns. What an opportunity to start a 'proper' paper for Hebden.

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 4 October 2015

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Anyone who thinks a dead tree title can improve in any way on Hebweb, or even get close, is in for a rude awakening. Traditional paid-for newspapers are dying because readers can get all the news and content they want online, mostly free.

To get local ad revenue, any new title would probably have to be a freesheet with guaranteed distribution or advertisers would consider they were throwing money away. Also, local advertisers rarely want to be associated with anything too controversial, so there would be pressure to keep content bland. If you rely on local ads to keep you going, forget fearless journalism.

Any story that Hebweb can't publish won't appear anywhere else either, through fear of litigation. Often those most afraid are printers. Publishers might move on but a printer can be wiped out if judged guilty of libel.

Meaty news stories are hard to find regularly. A Cyril Smith doesn't come along every five minutes, happily for communities but unhappily for aspiring investigative journalists. Hebden Bridge is not (I think) awash with hidden scandal and injustice. Or not enough.

Anything blatantly political or tendentious will turn many readers off. A student newspaper I once wrote for did a survey to find out what its readers most wanted more of. It was sport. Slash your wrists time for everyone except the sports editor. Basically, most readers are not truth-seeking firebrands. They want more sport.

Fact-checking would be the job from hell. From personal experience, people who feed you the best information don't want to go on record. Let's say there's a story about a school going badly wrong. Parents - particularly those who are themselves teachers and so most in the know - will sound off in private or in meetings but won't go on record for fear of jeopardising their careers. So do you publish what nobody will back up, or do you run that full-page five-a-side football report?

A good editor who will work for not even a single peanut is hard to find. Hebweb is brilliant because it's exceptionally well edited by somebody who is talented and cares, and can find the time. That last is important. A print title brings so much extra baggage with it that the job of editor probably now only makes sense if it's imposed as an alternative to prison.

I surprised myself recently when I worked out that I haven't bought a single daily or weekly newspaper for at least ten years. Nor have I bought more than a handful of magazines. It's not because I rifle through litter bins for cast-offs, it's because of the internet. There's no going back from that I'm afraid, no matter how appealing it may be to have a 'proper newspaper'.

From Rachel Bryson

Sunday, 11 October 2015

The front page of HB Times/Tod news this week is a picture of recently departed local GP Dr Michael Ross and headline 'GP accused of sexually motivated behaviour'. But there is almost nothing about this online apart from Halifax Courier so the first point is you can't always read everything in the newspaper online.

The second point is there is a GMC hearing ongoing at the moment. At the end of the article it says 'the allegations can be amended as the hearing progresses and when findings of fact are determined' which I think may mean they are looking for others to come forward?

From Anne H

Monday, 12 October 2015

It also illustrates what happens when they combine Tod News with Hebden Bridge Times. Dr Ross is a partner at the Todmorden GP practice, and although this is headline news in Todmorden it probably only merits a small item on page 2 or 3 for those who are not part of that practice - which is 99% of people in Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd. Up to now, the two papers have shared a lot of the news but always had different front pages.

From Kez Armitage

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

If anyone has any doubts about the commitment of Johnston Press to the Upper Calder Valley, their worst fears will be confirmed by a visit to the current Hebden Bridge Times website.

Under the heading 'News' on their front page, the main item is entitled "24 facts you need to know about SPECTRE" - a blatant and unashamed plug for the latest James Bond film. (Remember, this is a 'news' item!)

This is followed by a general item about trespass on the railways following an incident at Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. After that, an item about Jason Donovan visiting Leeds with his latest tour - another plug and not exactly relevant to the good folk of the Calder Valley.

And so it goes on. A very general item about primary school pupils moving on to secondary school and a business item about Gala Coral selling some of its bingo clubs, in the light of its merger with Ladbrokes.
Only then do we get three stories with some remote relevance to Hebden Bridge (although two of those are actually to do with Cragg Vale and Halifax)

I fear this is the beginning of the end for the Hebden Bridge Times/ Tod News. Advertising, direct or indirect, will increase, news items will diminish and/or become less relevant, and nobody in their right mind will bother to look at it. Who can blame them.

From Mark H

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Yes, bye bye HBT and TN. Just like the Halifax Evening Courier and all the other local papers across the country.

Some of these are owned by Johnston Press. I'm sure they will have competitors.

The Courier went from being a proper local daily paper with loyal and local journalists and readers to being a weekly filled with syndicated, vaguely local, news and advertorial. Churnalism.

How lucky we have been to hold out for so long.

A local press meant that our events and occasions were written about, photographed and sold widely before being archived. We bought extra copies to send Grandma pictures of nativity plays and graduations. We read the small ads for odd items to buy or sell, property and motor deals and we perused the sports pages for wickets taken or swimming gala results. Seasonal supplements convinced us that Mytholmroyd has it all this Christmas or that there'd be another sodding festival of some kind somewhere.

But now we're all writers and photographers with access to optimised marketing and cloud storage. Grandma has wifi on the cruise she paid for by selling all her belongings on eBay....

So... no surprise the paid-for papers are on the way out. But where do we see the local news now?

The Courier, HBT & TN used to carry detailed reports of Council and Committee meetings, of the doings of our MPs and of local business and economic issues.

Is it possible for HebWeb to develop into a bigger thing? If it's money, how much? Can we pledge to pay the cost of HBT each week?

Most worrying though is the fate of Reuben Skyjuice......

See also

Continued from this earlier thread - Two shops closing - end of an era