Life is local: An investigation to make you stop in your tracks

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If you read just one story from the regional press this weekend, please consider this one from the Islington Gazette. It’s a truly remarkable story, with an intro to make you stop in your tracks:

An ex-mayor of Islington and top councillor at the time when children were being raped in kids’ homes has sensationally admitted her links to a pro-paedophile group that supported child sex in early 1980.

Not surprisingly, it was front page news for the paper this week – and stood out at the news stand I visited at Euston Station on Thursday night too.

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Elsewhere this week, newsrooms across the UK are gearing up for a general election which seems to be positioning itself around one national issue. In such a situation, where does local fit in? Simple: By making the election local. Several of Trinity Mirror’s newsrooms in the South East are leading a drive to get more young people voting:

The general election comes just a month after local elections across the country (see the Canterbury example above) – and in one part of Cornwall, they are still trying to sort out a town election which, apparently, many local people thought had been cancelled:

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At the other end of the local government spectrum from town councils are the new region mayors. The splash in the Birmingham Post this week is, I think, the first front page policy story about an elected mayor:

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Elsewhere in the UK, there was an all too familiar theme to some watchdog-style front pages:

Suicide – or attempts at suicide – are very difficult issues for newsrooms to cover, for very obvious reasons. Two stories which stood out this week included the Hull Daily Mail’s interview with a man who explains why he tried to commit suicide on a busy main road – even explaining that he chose September so as not to ruin his friends’ summer holidays:

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While the Blackpool Gazette had the sad story of people encouraging someone who was considering suicide to ‘get on with it’:

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Sometimes, stories take on a peculiar local life of their own. Take, for example, the story of hotel works in North Wales killing a cat. News this week that two people had been charged for what is now known as the ‘rolling pin killing’ is proof of greatest asset local newsrooms have: long memories.

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In Bury, I suspect the headline and associated elements wrote themselves when details of this court case arrived in the office:

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This, from the Bolton News, was arguably one of the most striking front pages of the last seven days – the story of an OAP couple who have had their hospital beds moved together so they can spend what may be their last days together:

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Covering such stories sensitively can be a challenge for regional newspapers – as often a journalistic sense of sensitivity isn’t enough to avoid unintentionally causing distress. You may have read the story this week of a man who kept his wife’s dead body at home for six days after her death. It was subject to lurid headlines on some parts of the internet, but the Derby Telegraph’s treatment (it reported the story first), outlined below, is a beautiful read and tribute:

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For style and impact, the sharpest front page of the week was probably this one from the Dorset Echo, which has launched a campaign to get public loos re-opened:

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And how can we end the week without looking at football, as the football season comes to an end. Good news for Newcastle:

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Bad news for Blackburn:

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And a front page which pulls no punches when it comes to telling it as fans see it in Middlesbrough:

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And, as I’m told frequently, there’s more to sport than football. The Harrogate Advertiser demonstrated that this week with its celebration of the Tour de Yorkshire. I’m always wary of people pledging that big events will have long-term benefits to an area, but the promises made by the Tour de France organisers when it came to Yorkshire a couple of years ago appear to be holding true, if this front page is anything to by:

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