front pages

Life is local: Front pages containing stories to make you laugh, cry and wonder why…


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

Five days ago the South Wales Argus reported on how Marjorie Ovens would soon turn 100 but had no family – and expected not to get any birthday cards either.

The Argus had a simple request of its readers: Could you send Marjorie a card? The answer, from hundreds, was ‘yes.’ Five days later and this was a front page to make even the most cynical of journos smile:


The real stories of local people, carefully told, is what the regional press is surely all about. And it wasn’t just the Argus demonstrating that this week.

Several regional newspapers led their Wednesday editions with coverage of the Tunisia terror attack inquests.  The verdict, that they were unlawfully killed, came as no surprise, and for the families, the details of the cowardice of those who were meant to look after their loved ones was not a shock either, even if it was for the rest of us.

Beyond the global headlines lie many local stories, sensitively told by several regional papers:


The Christmas Eve front pages of 2016

As much a tradition in newsrooms as watching Home Alone, eating far too much and falling out of Monopoly all are at home (or is that just my house), the Christmas Eve front page is something planned in advance by most newsrooms and fought for by journalists in many too.

With Christmas falling on a Saturday this year, many regional Press titles (in my opinion) produced some of their most compelling front pages of the year, combining strong stories which carried a certain festive spirit alongside promos for other features in the often-larger weekend editions.

Of course, breaking news will always overtake even the most carefully-planned Christmas Eve front page, and you can see that happening in a few below.

And then there’s the Wolverhampton Express and Star which certainly ensured it was likely to be a talking point over Christmas Turkey in many Black Country homes on Christmas Day with its poll suggesting most people in the region regretted the vote for Brexit:


A front page to get the newsdesk phones ringing on Christmas Eve if ever there was one. “What it is, is….”

Anyway, here are the front pages I could find…



How to report Brexit locally: 15 very different front pages (in my opinion)

brexit newcastle2

Earlier, I shared a collection of regional press front pages from the day after the Brexit vote became known.

I think they showed the relevance of regional print titles to readers, running alongside the live news services and engaging content provided by those titles’ digital operations.

In fact, I suspect many of the regional front pages from Saturday, June 25 were influenced by what newsrooms could see was resonating online, and then applying that knowledge to crafting some of the most important front pages of the year.

Below – in time-honoured online listicle form! – are 15 of the front pages that stood out for me, and why:


How the regional press covered the Paris terrorism attacks in print

paris mail222

Front pages around the world were cleared as news of the terror attacks in Paris broke. For many regional newsrooms, it was too late to get the story into Saturday’s papers as they had already gone to press. I’ll cover off how regional papers can serve their readers online when an international story breaks in a later post.

But there were a handful of titles who were still ahead of deadline, or able to call their titles back off the presses, to deliver overnight reports on one of the worst attacks on the public in recent times.

Sunday’s regional papers also, generally, led with events in Paris, with Sunday Life the only one to opt for a splash headline in French, while the Sunday edition of the Western Morning News also carried a headline written in French as its second lead.

I’ve gathered those I could find here, not as a beauty parade of any sort, but to simply record some very powerful front pages. If your title isn’t here but should be, feel free to get in contact.


How Black Friday was reported by the regional press

So, how was Black Friday for you?

By my reckoning, last year was the first year Black Friday was bothered with by a significant number of big stores in the UK, mirroring the traditional sales frenzy seen in America on the day after Thanksgiving.

But yesterday was the first time it became properly newsworthy – so mark this special occasion – lets face it, it’s going to be in news diaries everywhere from now on – here’s how the regional press is covering it.


Is a newspaper’s print front page actually one of its most powerful tools for online too?

Strange as it may sound, I’m increasingly thinking that perhaps the most powerful tool in a newspaper’s push into digital is actually the printed front page.

A number of things have led me to this conclusion, but I really got thinking about this while listening to Five Live on Tuesday morning. There was a debate involving  David Clegg, political editor of the Daily Record, over whether Westminster’s leaders were going to keep to ‘the vow’ over more devolved powers to Scotland.


The newspaper letter of complaint which became front page news

Criminals contacting their local newspaper to complain about accuracy of articles are the stuff of legend in newsrooms around the country.

In many cases, they might be on the wrong side of the law, but how they come across in the newspaper is very important.

In the case of on-the-run burglar Darrell Burbeary, the complaint centred around what the police were saying about him.

So cross was he about what the police put in an appeal which was published in the Sheffield Star, that he wrote to the Star:


Thatcher front pages: How did the 68 regional newspapers treat the death of a prime minister? (gallery)

portsmouthnewsSo where were you when you heard Baroness Thatcher, Britain’s first – and to date, only – female prime minister had died? I was on a conference call and brought proceedings to an abrupt end by shouting out ‘Margaret Thatcher’s died.’ Conference calls being what they are, my line cut out and I had, rather awkwardly, repeat it again.

Who was it who told you? For me, it was Stan Collymore. Really. It was his Tweet popping up on my screen which told me  Baroness Thatcher had died. southwalesechoBeing a journalist, I dug around for another source too. But if ever there was proof was ability of social media to get  breaking news to people in a way radio, TV, news websites and certainly newspapers can only dream of,  it was an event like this.

All of which poses a bit of a dilemma for regional newspapers. With the vast majority now printed overnight, how do you respond to a huge story guaranteed to take up acres of national news print … and which judging by this snapshot of the BBC’s most viewed stories on its website just after 8pm on Monday, was already less popular than a celebrity story:


Riots in the UK: Front pages from the regions

I last did this on the day after the royal wedding and got a few comments from people saying they liked it, so I thought I’d do it again to show how regional newspapers have covered the riots so far.

For some titles, such as the Liverpool ECHO, the Liverpool Daily Post, the Birmingham Mail, the Wolverhampton Express and Star, the Bristol Evening Post and the Nottingham Evening Post, the riots have been right on their doorsteps – and the challenge becomes presenting the story in a way which covers all angles but which doesn’t inflame the situation.

In other areas, the links aren’t as geographically obvious. The Hartlepool Mail, for example, covered the story as seen through the eye of a local person caught up in the drama, while the Dorset Echo reported on cops being sent into London along with a local arrest. The Newcastle Evening Chronicle reported on memories coming back for those who remember riots of 1985.

For some papers, the lack of any action was a story in itself. Both the Swindon Advertiser and the Derby Telegraph ran headlines of ‘the anti-social network’ reporting that rumours of violence had spread around their towns, but nothing had happened. A similar story is reported on the front page of the Northants Evening Telegraph.

My favourite of the day was The Journal in Newcastle. No trouble there yet, but a front page which really caught the eye:

Newcastle Journal front page

The rules for going into the gallery are this: The main front page article must be about the riots. There are a lot of papers which have smaller pieces or cross refs, but they run into their hundreds. Here are a selection of Wednesday’s papers:

The Royal Wedding: Front pages from the provinces [gallery]

The Royal Wedding.

The Royal Wedding.

So that was the big royal wedding then. While there has been a lot of coverage of how the TV did in covering the big day, and how the national press dealt with the celebrations (and how it will cover the honeymoon), there’s been little said about the regional press.

Juggling the balance between national and local news is always a tricky one on a big occasion (One website I work with had a glut of messages on its Facebook pages saying ‘We want local news from you, not royal wedding rubbish!’).

So I thought it might be interesting to get together as many front pages as I could from Saturday, and plot them on to a map. Most papers did splash on the wedding, with many packing pages full of street parties. A day most regional press photographers won’t forget, I suspect.

Here they are in a gallery below: