Until late 2010 I lived in Bradford, which, if you include the surrounding towns of Shipley, Saltaire, Keighley and the like, is quite a large place. Consequently, the local news paper – the Telegraph & Argus – has a fair amount of genuinely news-worthy things to report on.
Things are a little different here in Sowerby Bridge. We actually don’t have a paper of our own – in a small commuter town of 20,000 people not much happens – so our nearest local news paper is over the hill in Halifax: the Halifax Courier.
The Courier also covers the areas surrounding Halifax – our town, plus places like Elland, Luddenden and sometimes Brighouse as well. It recently moved from a daily to a weekly publication on Fridays, although its web site is still updated during the week with news.
Of course, there are some slow news days. For instance, a car hitting railings outside a supermarket is apparently worthy of an article, albeit one that is three sentences long.
There’s also the paper’s long term obsession with the so-called ‘Calderdale catbeast’. First reported in October 2005, with a Daily Mail-esque headline the following month, it apparently re-surfaced in 2006, 2008, then took a break and came back in 2011 and again in 2012. It probably doesn’t exist but it fills column inches.
However, it is unfair to call out the Halifax Courier here as other papers in smaller towns and cities sometimes struggle to find interesting local news. One of the articles the prompted me to writing this blog post was an article in ‘The Press‘ (formerly the Yorkshire Evening Press) about repairing a broken CCTV camera – including a picture of it. That was found by an old schoolfriend who has recently returned to York after living in Manchester for a while, where lots of news-worthy things actually happen.
Running a local news paper can be hard, especially as peoples’ interest in print media has been on a steady decline for years, and there isn’t always a wealth of interesting things to write about. I just wonder whether, sometimes, it would be better to print nothing at all, than print largely irrelevant stories, or nonsense about probably fictitious big cats.