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
Listening to 5Live on Monday morning, I clearly wasn’t alone in thinking the Carillion story would be one which ultimately ended up with a last-minute rescue, followed by much political finger-pointing.
When the news broke just before 7am that the firm had liquidated itself, there was a gasp in the studio. The news agenda was rewritten at a stroke, and the political debate for the week formed.
But what was obvious quickly was that a firm employing tens of thousands of people would also be a huge influencer of the local economy in the towns and cities where it was based, so it was no surprise that it dominated Tuesday’s front pages, not least in Wolverhampton, where the company had an HQ.
It’s a strong example of a national story with profoundly different local angles across the country.
For example, the Croydon Advertiser reported that its local libraries, run by Carillion, would be taken back into local control, while the Derby Telegraph reported on how plans to upgrade local roads and rail projects could be slowed down as a result of the collapse.
Of course, it’s often local stories which end up going national. The tragic case of Poppi Worthington has been doggedly pursued by the Evening Mail in Barrow for years.
The Mail has led the charge – often a lone voice – in demanding justice for the little girl. And now a coroner HAS ruled the baby was sexually assaulted by her Dad, the paper has re-opened its campaign for justice. True, local campaigning journalism at it’s best, in my opinion.
Another national/local story this week occurred in the West Midlands, where the death of Cyrille Regis had a profoundly local impact. A national hero for so many reasons, he was also a truly Midlands legend after a playing career across the region, prompting these front pages from the Birmingham Mail and Coventry Telegraph on Tuesday:
The NHS might have drifted away from the top of the national news agenda – which is by nature and necessity a burn bright, fade fast news cycle in many cases – in recent days, but the crisis hasn’t gone away.
The last seven days has seen a slew of often personal stories revealing that while the weather (supposedly the reason for recent blockages in the service) may have temporarily improved in the last two weeks, problems still remain:
The NHS also dominated a lot of front pages on Tuesday thanks to a project by the BBC-organised cross-industry data hub, which interrogates data sets which can work across the country. Since before Christmas, three reporters from Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press and Newsquest have worked with the BBC’s team to develop projects like this. Their big release this week looked at NHS litigation – the amount of money going out of the NHS in compensation. Some of the numbers were mind-boggling:
Talking of big money, it’s that time of year when reporters lose days in council finance reports, trying to understand what on earth is going on with council tax rises. This front page is probably typical of many more in weeks to come:
While the Swindon Advertiser looked at another aspect, the police precept, following this challenge from the local police and crime commissioner:
Other politicians making a splash this week included the man in Northern Ireland forced to stand down after posing with a loaf of bread on his head:
“Sinn Fein’s Barry McElduff has announced he is resigning as West Tyrone MP following the controversy over his Kingsmill video.
McElduff had apologised for the tweet on the 42nd anniversary of the IRA murder of 10 protestant workers near the Co Armagh village.
He deleted the social media post, which showed him walking around a shop with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head, last Saturday morning.
Quite simply, a remarkable story.
Also controversial was the Brighton Tory candidate who found himself having to deny defending Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘rivers of blood’ speech.
Meanwhile, an awkward front page for councillors in Tyneside after a woman who helped children to cross the road in her spare time is told to …
And if there’s proof that there’s nothing more powerful in a local newsroom than a good memory, then surely it comes in the shape of this front page:
Remarkable human interest stories this week included the man from Leeds who survived being stuck up a fell in the Lake District for two nights:
The Sunderland model in Hawaii who rang home to say goodbye after the missile alert system went off, making him think he had just minutes to live:
And in Dundee, a riches-to-rags story:
Football, as ever made the front pages in several places. In Bristol, a row over match-day parking threatens to shadow the visit of Manchester City in the Cup:
In Newcastle, the on-off sale of Newcastle United inspired this chess-themed front page:
And in Hartlepool, the prospect of the club being saved from ruin was a worthy front page contender:
Finally, this week, a front page which sums up the mission of local journalism online: To engage people in important issues through creative storytelling. The Bristol Post did this brilliantly in print this week – a reminder, perhaps, that local journalism is local journalism, regardless of platform…