If you read Twitter last week, you’d think the biggest contribution the local Press has made to election coverage so far has been the decision to accept ad wraps from the Tories on titles across the country.
Among the titles accepting the wraps was the Chorley Citizen, the first newspaper I ever did paid work (and a heck of a lot of unpaid work) for. Back in 1996, my first ever front page was printed in spot green (remember that?) because a wrap had been sold. A wise old hand at the time advised me ‘to get use to it.’ It wasn’t a political wrap, but it was an advertiser paying to be the first thing a reader saw.
In a way, the fact that the Tory wrap is making a noise in 2017 is proof that the ad is doing its job. Does it challenge the independence of newspapers? No. Does it represent newspapers ‘selling their soul’ as one of ex-editor suggested on Twitter? No. Is it a good sign that a political party, after several elections of largely ignoring the regional press, are looking at us as a way to communicate with voters once again? I would argue yes.
The real election story of last week for the regional Press was created in town halls, sport centres and function suites up and down the country. In many cases, we were the only media representatives there to witness seats being won, seats being lost, guards being changed and political careers beginning or ending.
From Manchester, Bristol, Teesside, Liverpool, Cambridgeshire and Birmingham voting in their first directly-elected mayors through to every council in Wales and Scotland and elections at county councils across England, democracy made front page news in many places on Saturday. Here are some of those front pages (If you are of a socialist viewpoint, you may want to look away now!)