Polish editions help regional press reach out to new readers

One of the most striking ways in which local newspapers have changed over the past few years is how they have catered for a burgeoning Eastern European immigrant population.

The Reading Chronicle last year became the first newspaper to produce a Polish edition of its newspaper. The Reading Kronika normally features seven pages of Polish content, followed by the rest of the paper in English, and is sold in Polish delicatessens, shops and clubs across Reading and Berkshire.

Other papers have begun to cater for the Polish community in their circulation areas, who are often drawn to areas with vibrant tourism industries.

The Torquay Herald Express has a weekly column by Polish freelance journalist Artur Pomper every Monday. The column is posted on the paper's website and is accompanied by a video blog, in which Pomper discusses the week's news from the perspective of the area's 10,000 Poles.

Herald Express editor Andy Phelan said: "The column has been a great addition to the paper and really popular in the Polish community and outside it. It's a great readership market too. Like all regional newspapers we try to represent the widest section of the community that we can.

"The biggest growth in the American press has been foreign language editions, so there are commercial reasons for it as well. Torbay's tourism sector is a big part of life here – the biggest sector – and a lot of those jobs are being filled primarily by Poles, so we have a sizeable [Polish] community that grows over the summer season. Why not have a paper that reflects that?"

Phelan said there had been some "aggro" between Polish foreign exchange students and locals in Torbay in recent years. The column and video blog, printed and spoken both in English and Polish, is one way to bring the communities together.

"The fact we do it on a bilingual basis has gone down really well. It's not just been local news, we've done social issues such as how the education system works and how to register with a doctor.

"Polish people have told us that they use it to improve their English language skills and because it's bilingual, English readers don't feel excluded. We're trying to encourage integration and understanding, which is important."

One of the country's largest standalone foreign language titles is Gazeta z Highland, or Highland Gazette, which launched in February this year. The free 20-page paper is published in Inverness by Scottish Provincial Newspapers, owner of Northern Times, and comes out every two months with a circulation of around 18,000.

Each article is printed in both English and Polish, which is useful for editor Helen MacRae, who doesn't speak the language and has to rely on Polish reporter Joanna Napiorowska.

MacRae says: "With the first edition we were just finding our feet, but each one will get better and better. There is a great demand from Polish people in the Highlands. And there's great demand from advertisers."

As in Torbay, thousands of young Poles, as many as 8,000, have moved to the Highlands to work in the tourism industry. MacRae says Gazeta is doing its bit for community relations.

"There's a strong feeling that we should be doing our best to integrate the community so if [Scottish] people in the area can read about what's happening for the Polish people, then there will be a general interest in each other. I've had a couple of calls from people with connections to Poland, who have used the paper to brush up their Polish."

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