Life is local: Why regional press front pages are so special

Every week, millions of people rely on their local newspapers and websites to keep them informed of what is happening in their area. When seen together, they can paint a picture of life in the UK in a way no other collection of stories can. Life is local – and this is a look at the front pages which stood out over the last seven days

The strongest stories are surely those which involve a remarkable level of bravery from those involved. This story stood out from the Bolton News – a mum sharing her personal agony, and presumably one of her most private photos, to warn other parents of the risk of meningitis

Sometimes, it’s the clarity only journalism can bring to a human being’s plight to make it clear just how out of control a government policy, ruling or process can be. Normally, that clarity comes from focusing on the individuals involved.

Sticking with a story is something special to the regional Press in many ways. This example from the Croydon Advertiser shows why it is so important newsrooms treasure their collective memory

A story to frighten any parent – from the Swindon Advertiser this week

Meanwhile, in Sunderland it’s a school’s behaviour which is causing upset as parents find themselves chased by debt collectors for unpaid fees.

Talking of behaviour, it’s the behaviour of the world’s most powerful man which got people out on the streets – in the case of Nottingham, it was front page news as hundreds brought the city to a standstill.

And behind the protests are emerging stories of how the behaviour of Trump is impacting individuals. This story, about a Welsh-born teacher barred from getting into America in front of his students was first reported by the South Wales Evening Post, before being picked across the world.
Talking of actual criminals, I think this court story has it all!

Across the country, front pages this week have been devoted to council tax increases, or council service cuts. Or, in many cases, both. This headline perhaps isn’t the message the Government had hoped to find

While this front page of the Derby Telegraph is almost certainly one the political leader in question had hoped would never see the light of day!

And a front page that Ranieri surely would have hoped would never have been needed – but a great one all the same to stand out on the shelves in Leicester this weekend.

More newspapers should do this: Clearing space to urge people to have their say in a consultation. In the case of the Echo here, it’s a consultation over health services – and the impact of the changes couldn’t be more crystal clear

And who knows what the local council involved here expected to find by turning to drones to keep an eye on illegal encampments from the sky, as reported by Bedfordshire on Sunday.

Staying in Dorset, and this was arguably the health story of the week – a self-inflicted bed blocker who has stayed in hospital for 99 days … and is ordering takeaways to the ward too!

The other side to health coverage, of course, is holding those in power to account. In-depth work from the Bristol Post led to this front page revealing that a string of patients who took their own lives were all known to mental health services.

Some court cases attract more attention than others. The murder of Helen Bailey was one such case. For the local paper, the Cambridge News, coverage was live online, and then turned into a compelling read as the case came to a close

All local journalists know that serious crimes leave a long-term impact on the communities they happened in, none more so than in Batley, where MP Jo Cox was killed last year. News of plans to hold street parties in her memory this summer was always going to command a front-page presence in Batley.

And this story from the Enfield Independent stuck in my memory – another great example of a community coming together which, in turn, has a rightful place on the front page

While in Barry, it’s likely a community campaign is going to be required to keep the Christmas lights going – is this front page the first step?

I have no idea either, but I love this front page

And the Blackpool Gazette deserves top marks for a) finding this story and b) making the most of it, right down to the headline you’ll only get to write once in your career
If you’ve seen a front page to be included next week, head to the ‘about’ section of this blog for details on how to send it me, or let me know on Twitter @davidhiggerson


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