Editor of axed Trinity paper: A town without a weekly newspaper is a town without a heart

I don’t know if Chase Post editor Mike Lockley knew that his paper was going to close when he wrote a piece to mark his 25th year in the job last week.

I suspect not. These sort of decisions tend to come down from the top with quick and ruthless efficiency.

It is one of the best pieces I have read about the thrill, satisfaction and importance of local newspaper journalism.

And it provides yet more evidence that – important as the Leveson Inquiry is – our politicians would serve the public good much more effectively by expending their energies and money on finding a solution to the crisis in the regional press.

In more and more towns in the UK we are about to find out what happens when you remove all journalistic oversight from local politicians, courts, businesses and schools.

As a commenter noted on yesterday’s story revealing that 50 editorial jobs are to be cut, and three titles closed, by Trinity Mirror in the Midlands, the Cannock Chase Post was “a lifeline to the many hundreds of elderly and housebound in this area who would be totally isolated and uniformed without their weekly paper”.

Here’s an extract from Mike’s piece:

Occasionally, the national newspapers will be intrigued enough by a tale to write ABOUT the people of my patch – I write FOR them. Their reporters can get the facts wrong, ruffle feathers, then disappear into the distance. I can’t because there’s always someone in the street ready to loudly broadcast the inaccuracies.

I still can’t believe I get paid for spreading stories. You might call it gossip, but one man’s tittle-tattle is another’s key local information….

I’m something of a dinosaur. I know this because the exasperated IT expert who spent a week trying to teach me computer skills called me a dinosaur, or was it a fossil?

I may not have the new technology skills, but I have a contact book crammed with ‘curtain twitchers’ and devoid of numbers for gushing PR gals, usually called Gemima, Hannah or Suzi. Poor ‘Hannah’ rang, close to hysteria, this morning to proclaim: ‘My client’s done something reeeeally exciting with milk.’

He hadn’t. It’s still white and hasn’t started coming out of cows’ noses.

And I, like every other weekly journalist, can play a part in the community I work in. I’ve helped save schools, stopped telecommunication towers being erected and even put pink custard back on a school menu.

Times and technology change, people’s desire to know what’s happening in their community doesn’t. A town without its own weekly newspaper is a town without a heart.

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