The outgoing editor of Bedfordshire on Sunday Sarah Cox has published the full unedited version of a final editorial which was damning of changes wrought at the paper by new owners Trinity Mirror.
Free title Bedfordshire on Sunday closes this week after 40 years in print to be replaced with a new mid-week title. The website has also been closed.
Cox, who handed in her notice some months before the closure, said the new title will be “offering a mix of content gathered from the community. Perhaps the future of journalism really is free from journalists. Time will tell.”
Bedfordshire on Sunday is one of a number of former Local World titles bought by Trinity Mirror at the end of 2015 which have been subject to drastic cutbacks
OneMk, Luton on Sunday, the Northampton Herald and Post, Nuneaton News, Newmarket News, Haverhill News and Ely News are among the former Local World titles to have been axed by Trinity Mirror.
Bedfordshire on Sunday has gained a reputation for campaigning journalism and hard news over is history – and according to Cox it turned a profit.
Cox had been editor for more than two years and first joined the paper as a work experience trainee six eyars ago.
She said in the unedited version of her piece: “I would like to tell you that I leave the paper certain that its excellent work will continue for many years. Instead, I am writing one week ahead of the final edition of a newspaper which has never erred from its mission to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable (a mission all titles worth of the name ‘newspaper’ should share).”
Saying that she loves her job, she added: “But in a world where bean counters are king, caring passionately for your product is just not enough, even if it is making money (you could always be making more).
“My excellent – if dwindling – editorial team has spent countless hours in council chambers, tribunals, courtrooms and town halls to give democracy tangible column inches. Without reporters and newspapers, free speech is little more than a notion.”
She said that the saddest thing about the closure of the paper was the fact that “a strong voice asking vital questions has now been silenced”.
Cox said that a local PR reminded her recently of the famous saying “news is something someone, somewhere doesn’t want you to print. The rest is advertising.”
Cox wrote: “If she gets it, it seems ironic that those at the top of this fantastic, if challenging, industry are struggling.
“Losing a newspaper which is not afraid to be hated, ruffle feathers and annoy advertisers comes at a high price for us all. Grenfell should have taught us that.”
Tweeting a picture of the whole column, Cox noted that the version which appeared in print was largely replaced with a large picture. She said: “Obviously management didn’t appreciated my final column.”
Bedfordshire on Sunday had a weekly free circulation of 56,000.
Obviously management didn’t appreciate my final column, replacing my words with a huge picture of Riverside North. Here’s the original: pic.twitter.com/x2JuXSIqNm
— Sarah Cox (@says_sarah) September 24, 2017