Life is Local: It’s all about council tax, then (but so much more too)


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

With councils up and down the country setting their council tax for the forthcoming year, it’s hardly a surprise to see the results of their decisions – against a backdrop of spending cuts at the same time – making the front pages.

In South Wales this week, neighbouring (sort of ) papers had very different takes on the goings on at their councils:

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Storm central: Front pages from when the rain came down and the floods…

Today, the newspaper news stands were all about the death of Nelson Mandela, at least on all of the national newspapers.

But for regional newspapers, particularly those in in the Midlands, north east and north west, it was the weather which took centre stage.

For some titles, this may be because overnight deadlines are in the early evening, meaning that Mandela’s death, announced as it was after 9pm, was too late for the print edition.

Many others, however, will have had a choice – go with the late-breaking international news story which will have developed significantly online and through the broadcast media by the time the paper hits the stands and which probably can’t compete with the pre-planned coverage national newspapers may well have had to hand, or stand out with local coverage of the story no-one else will be covering.

For me, that choice became a no-brainer – apart from titles such as the Western Mail which have a legitimate claim to being a national newspaper for the area (in its case, a country) it serves – when I watched the BBC News at 10pm. The BBC’s national coverage was without fault, but the regional news – BBC North West where I live – was utterly bizarre.

Having heard world leaders pay tribute, meticulous obituaries and pre-planned analysis on the national news, BBC North West delivered a reporter in the studio relaying Tweets from Kenny Dalglish and Rio Ferdinand plus a man, from the north west, who once painted Mandela – I think.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you have a strength, you should always play to it. The local media’s strength is being, well, local, and this selection of newspaper front pages from storm-hit areas yesterday, proves just how strong that strength can be:

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It’s a boy! The only headline for a right royal occasion

The Blackpool Gazette struck lucky with a very obviously local angle to the royal birth

A little later than planned, I’ve scooped up what the regional press did on the day after William and Kate announced the arrival of Prince George – although by then, he was just the new royal prince.

The story broke at around 8.30pm on Monday night – giving regional newspapers an interesting dilemma. Thanks to overnight printing in most newsrooms (which I still don’t think is the bad thing it’s often made out to be!), the story fell right into ‘our time.’

But with wall-to-wall saturation coverage, Kay Burley bouncing as though she’s been force-fed Haribos and the heavy artillery coverage the national press had poised and ready to go … was the greater opportunity in providing something a little different on the newsstands?

I imagine it probably came down, in part, to two things: How close deadline was, and, perhaps more importantly, what the readerships’ perceived view of the royal family is. I know a former news editor on a large regional daily who used to say one of the big attractions of moving to that paper was the fact its readers were said to hate the royal family.

Anyway, when was the last time the same headline appeared on the front of so many regional papers on the same day?

Great minds think a like – and it’s the first thing everyone asks anyway.

Other front pages going big on the baby included (I liked the Blackpool Gazette especially):

And what was making the front page for those papers which chose not to cover the royal birth on the front page? Well, since you asked:

Gallery and map: Front pages from a frozen UK

southwalesecho1There are very few news stories which lead to a huge increase in web traffic, but can be guaranteed to really hurt newspaper sales.

But the snow is one of them. It’s obvious really – if it snows, you’re less likely to get to the shops, but still want information so you turn online.

Done right on regional news websites, trusted print brands can become more instant and useful than local BBC radio – although they will continue to have the massive benefit of cross-promotion from regional TV bulletins.

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Riots in the UK: Friday’s regional newspaper front pages – telling the story far and wide

A LOOK through Friday’s regional newspapers demonstrates just how far the impact of the rioting in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool and Gloucester was felt, with papers often hundreds of miles away from looting finding local angles on the story.

In Gwent, South Wales, the South Wales Argus led with a police warning that they were monitoring people on Facebook and Twitter ahead of the weekend, while down the road in Swansea (ok, so my Welsh geography isn’t great), the South Wales Evening Post had news of two arrests in what it called a ‘copycat riot probe.’ There was news of similar arrests on the front pages of the Shropshire Star, the Northampton Chronicle, the Shields Gazette and the Daily Gazette in Colchester.

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Riots in the UK: Thursday’s regional newspaper front pages

Thursday’s front pages revealed just how far the riots – or the fear of the riots – had spread.

Thursday is publication day for many weekly newspapers, and in London in particular, many weeklies sought to find a way to tell the story of what happened in their area. Papers including the Bexley Times, the East London Advertiser and the Islington Gazette had first-hand accounts of how communities were turned into war zones.

The Kilburn Times carried a different line, telling how traders fought off ‘copy-cat looters’ while the Hornsey Journal opted for a more upbeat approach, revealing how clothes and toys had been donated to those left homeless by the riots. The Ham and High newspaper also took an upbeat tones, focusing on the hard work of those trying to clean the area after the riots. Perhaps the most surreal was the Romford Post, which reported how would-be looters couldn’t work out how to smash a Debenham’s window, so gave up.

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