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  • Writer's pictureThe Editor

Local papers

They're not just for local people.

Whenever I visit another part of the UK - and they have their own local paper - that's it. You won't be able to compete for my attention for at least an hour.

'But aren't they just full of school fetes and lost kittens?' I hear you cry.

Well yes. Among other, equally banal things. But that's the whole point. On the surface, what looks stupefyingly mundane belies a treasure trove of stories that dig into all shades of the human condition.

Life isn't straightforward. Or logical. Or all that exciting at times.

That's the same whether it's local, national or international.

So for me, there's something compelling about looking at stories from a particular locale. It's like saying 'this is a representation of the area'. I'm fascinated by that.

Okay, so this probably sounds a bit sad. But it's because I've got (or I had) some skin in the game in this regard.

I used to be a journalist, and I worked on a few local rags in my time. So I know what's involved in trying to jazz up something very ordinary to try and sell papers. Like trying to turn a tiny story about some garden flower theft into a massive scoop - as there's a big hole on page 4 because a story suddenly got spiked (dropped).

Stop yawning. It's no mean feat you know.

Having said all that, I loved local newspapers before I became a journo. Maybe that's why I became one. Chicken and egg. Anyway, I digress...

I specifically see creative value in local papers because they give you a window into the 'new world' you temporarily find yourself in. It could be the local vernacular, reference points or shared history that muscle their way into each article.

Hardly earth-shattering - but to my mind, surprisingly fertile ground for ideas to pop up.

Essentially you're going somewhere less well known. You're seeing things from a new perspective. And when you're jerked out of the familiar, your eyes are opened just that little bit wider - creating opportunities to let new ideas to come in.

If you're an urbane, metropolitan type, it's easy to laugh at the yokels. But if you've got enough self-awareness, and can take your nose out of the air for 5 minutes to bury it in some local news pages, you can be rewarded with a sniff of a different life.

And then, much like when your imagination is whisked off by a novel, your mind can wander off to places where your unconscious can start to play.

Or maybe being served up small stuff naturally requires your imagination to turn it into bigger stuff.

That's the huge value of local news stories: their small scale. It's nearly always the case that more creativity is required to come up with ideas for something 'so what' than it is for something big and sexy. From an advertising perspective, getting the world excited about paper clips is a shedload harder than selling sports cars. Stands to reason.

I think that's the essence of why I love local newspapers.

(Or in these times of restricted travel, local newspaper websites).

But the other reason I love them is for the frequent, unintentional hilarity of some of the headlines.

For a real treat, check out some of the headlines made famous by the Brighton & Hove Argus. You can see more of these gems, here and here.

I reckon the creativity of those story titles - vs the lacklustre subject matter - rather proves my point.

Either that or local news is so dull you'd literally do anything to stop yourself going mad.

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