I love local newspapers. From their late teens onward both my parents (@coxchat and @stage_review) spent their careers as reporters, editors and film/theatre critics on the Luton News, Dunstable Gazette and Leighton Buzzard Observer. Since 2011 a large part of my day job has involved trying to get the public interested in fun and educational events and initiatives attached to the universities I’ve worked at across London: local newspapers were always such a valuable way to reach people (who don’t, say, follow us on Twitter). Ironically, now we live in an increasingly connected world with a zillion channels to communicate on, that seems to be getting harder and harder to do.
Local newspapers have long helped us find out what was going on next door (be it good or bad), what we should watch, visit, participate in, and, even more vitally, they exposed what needed exposing, campaigned, and held power to account. The Victorian sporting press and the south London and Kent locals have also, of course, been enormously helpful to this research project – my blogs and academic writing are almost entirely based on their often eccentric, and occasionally very helpfully detailed, reports.
The decline of local media in the UK has now reached a critical stage, with more and more titles closing, merging with others, or at the very least they’re a shadow of their former selves, with perhaps one reporter left working 20 miles from their beat. I could go on about this for another 10,000 words.
Anyway. A year ago, The Lewisham Ledger was launched by the team who also bring us the Dulwich Diverter and the Peckham Peculiar. These hyper-local papers only come out with an issue every two months, and as a result, are bloody good quality. They’re newspapers that are features-focused and a real celebration of the people that make a community – new businesses, artists, musicians, living (and dead) legends, and more. And even the adverts are nicely designed!
We were hugely honoured to be asked to contribute to the Ledger’s June/July issue with a history article about Jack and his New Cross wrestlers.
Thanks Kate and Mark!
ps. I love Jim Radford so much