Life is local: It’s all about the election, stupid

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Election day is one of the few days in the year when some regional newspapers can get back on to the presses for an on-day edition. But what about the day after the morning after the night before?

Election Saturday’s front pages work on many levels for the regional press. Time has been had to take stock about what’s going on and where, and what it means locally. Front pages also have a unique value online – they can grab the attention and remind people that professional journalism lies behind the links our brands share.

So where to start yesterday? How about York, where the Press led with the question many are still asking:

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Ignored by the party leaders? Maybe local journalism needs to come off the fence

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Local journalism has long been proud of its impartiality when it comes to covering elections. But in failing to see that it’s possible to offer endorsements while still providing balanced coverage, aren’t we effectively making ourselves irrelevant in the most important local conversation of all?

An investigation into the access afforded to local journalists by political parties was published The Bureau of Investigative Journalism on Friday. It concluded that both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were short-changing local journalists during the general election.

This won’t come as a surprise to many local journalists – indeed, the Bureau began looking into the issue, and spoke to dozens of local journalists, on the back of hearing about Cornwall Live’s experience with prime minister Theresa May early in the campaign. May’s people refused permission for the website to film the PM, and kept reporters well away from much of the visit.

The Bureau concluded that May has done interviews with regional media, but often has little of substance to say. Plymouth Herald chief reporter Sam Blackledge summed up the experience I’m sure many have experienced brilliantly here. Corbyn, on the other hand, has done fewer interviews, but has given better answers according to some.

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I’ve seen examples which contradict both conclusions – May certainly delivered an answer to ChronicleLive’s Mike Kelly when he opened a press conference with a zinger of a question, while Corbyn made it quite clear he had no intention of talking to BBC North West Tonight when he visited Salford, and the subsequent package on the evening news (which I can’t find online) should shame the Labour Party.

But there’s no denying it’s becoming harder with each election that passes to get the national parties to take the local press seriously. The election of 2005, when I interviewed Tony Blair the day before the poll as was impressed by his apparent depth of knowledge about local issues, seems much longer ago than the 12 years which have passed. Cynics at the time said ‘he was just well briefed.’ These days, even that would be nice.

So what do we do about it, and why is this the case? I suspect local interviews are seen as a potential banana skin to be avoided at all costs. Much better (for the campaign) to be seen in Huddersfield, in front of a hand-picked audience of factory workers, preaching about issues which match the surroundings than risk actually engaging in those local issues.

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FOI Friday: Stories made possible thanks to the law politicians keep trying to kill

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Criminals applying to be taxi drivers < ChroniceLive

Killers, rapists and potential terrorists are among those who have applied to be taxi drivers in the North East.

An investigation by ChronicleLive shows the amount of dangerous criminals trying to become cabbies – with arsonists and violent yobs just some being given licences.

Separate figures revealed through a Freedom of Information request show eight drivers in South Tyneside and six in Gateshead were issued a taxi licence despite criminal convictions between November 2014 and October 2015.

Pauper funerals rising < Sheffield Star

The number of ‘paupers’ funerals’ in Sheffield, for people who died alone or whose family were too poor to pay, is growing.

Sheffield Council paid for 67 such services over the last two years – more than double the 33 it organised across 2012 and 2013 – figures obtained by The Star using the Freedom of Information Act show.

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Manchester: The spread which shows how a nation cares

The Manchester Evening News carried a supplement on Saturday, reflecting on the week’s events which shook the nation, but made a city stronger.

The front page of that supplement has been widely shared online:

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Inside the supplement is a spread of front pages from around the UK this week, anchored by the MEN’s fronts this week which have both set the tone and reflected the mood in the city over the past seven days:

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Manchester: A minute’s pause captured across the country

Friday’s regional newspapers continued to be dominated by events in Manchester, with an increasing focus on the impact the actions of terrorists were having in their areas.

More than 50 newspapers led with stories related to Monday’s terror attack, with victims being named, armed police on the street – and tens of thousands of people taking part in a minute’s silence on Thursday morning captured in many papers too.

For the Manchester Evening News, it was time to reflect a different mood emerging in the city – that of the debt of gratitude so many feel towards the emergency services:

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Manchester: The front pages which show the nationwide impact terror attack has had

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Thursday’s front pages of the regional press showed the number of communities the horror at the Manchester Arena had impacted across the country.

The Manchester Arena is arguably the biggest indoor music venue in the North, and as such people travel a long way to see stars there. On Monday, there were 21,000 people there. They had travelled from far and wide.

Their stories were told across the country:

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Manchester: Regional press front pages share horror, grief … and a determination to support those suffering

The terror attack on the Manchester will dominate the news for days to come. It was one of those events which stops you in your tracks, and poses so many questions.

For regional newsrooms across the UK, it was another occasion where the lines between ‘local’ and ‘national’ news were blurred by the fact events in Manchester were the only thing people were thinking about.

As today’s front pages show, this was a tragedy which stretched way beyond the city in which it was inflicted. Stories of escaping, of helping, of grieving and of helping dominate pages of the regional Press from across the UK.

The obvious place to start is in Manchester, with this front page from the Evening News:

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