Friday 13 April 2012

L is for Local Newspapers

Don't you just love them? The sheer trivia, the desperate scrambling for something - anything - to make a story; the ill-disguised glee over a local tragedy. There's nothing quite like them.

We don't have the local newpaper as a rule, but I was browsing through it at the dentist's this week, and came upon this typical gem:

Police and fire crews were called at 10.40pm on Thursday after smoke was seen coming from a bin in Monkton Park. The caller extinguised it with a bottle of water, but checks were made to ensure it was safe."

Phew. I bet that had you on the edge of your seat.(It poses questions, too. Why did anyone call the fire brigade at all? What "checks" were made? Did someone just take off the lid and have a look, or did they get out those smoke-detecting instruments to make sure there were no little sparks just waiting for them all to go away?)

You have to live in a place for the local paper to make any kind of sense. When you get to the stage where you read about people/places you know, it means you've arrived. And when you actually read an article that includes yourself, well, then you really are part of the scenery.

Dog poo is an old favourite in local rags. When all else fails - when no-one's been murdered, gone missing, met the queen, grown the biggest artichoke - dog poo is a reliable standby. Letters about dog poo, complaints, fines, new legislation, dog wardens - it's all there. Good old dog poo. Where would the local papers be without it?

We get lots of dog poo in our lane. (I fantasise about putting the guilty dog-owners in the stocks, and pelting them with the stuff.) I haven't written to the paper about it. Yet. But one day, when I really do have nothing better to do, I just might.


  1. I've lived in more than one small town, so this was a great read, Frances.
    I used to love smalltown local papers, but these days the spelling and grammatical errors outnumber the laughs at a rate of 10 to 1, annoying me beyond endurance.
    Nevertheless, the news topics are, indeed, like nothing we read anywhere else: horses are bigtime, as are cows, and school awards days mean so much to parents. The weather is always to be bemoaned, and county politics to be nitpicked to pieces.
    Dog poo, on the other hand, has been severely legislated in most parts of Canada. An age-old news source, gone the way of all good things.

  2. 1st Man: Look at all the dog mess down this lane.

    2nd Man: I blame the owners.

    1st Man: No, I'm sure it's the dogs.

  3. My wife used to call our local paper on Lewis (The Stornoway Gazette) The Two Minutes Silence. That just about summed it up most of the time. However looking back over the last 40 years at old articles it is fascinating to realise how much good stuff there was there. Anything the local council did was likely to be reported. I often used to have a certain deja vu when reports on some controversy or some deathly dull local matter carefully written in my best legalese or bureaucracy speak were reprinted almost verbatim making even me yawn.

  4. My hometown is relatively small at about 85.000 inhabitants, and we call our local paper the "Käseblatt", literally meaning cheese paper. My parents have it delivered every morning, and my Mum is always very well informed about what's going on in town. Whenever there is anything she thinks could interest me, she tells me about it; sometimes she scans in an article and sends it to me by email, or she keeps the clipping for me to read until I am over at her place for lunch again.
    They certainly have a mixture of useful and totally superfluous information; the most bizarre exmaple (and I am not kidding you!) having been a special feature on page 3 about the toilet women shortly after our train station had been enlarged and new toilets set up, interviews, pictures, the full works...

  5. Exmaple?! I think I have just created a new word! And I do so wish there was a way to edit our own comments when we notice a typo.

  6. We have a great local paper where I grew up, though I don't see it as much now. But everyone in that area reads it for the 'hatches', 'matches' and 'dispatches'!

  7. Thanks, Kay. Do pod-less in Canda....I'm tempted to join you.

    Oh Keith....groan!

    GB, the two-minute thing would certainly apply to our local rag!

    Librarain, it's comforting to know that things are not much better in Germany!

    Rosemary, yes. The hatches etc can be useful. The lonely hearts are interesting, too...

  8. I knew a man who collected local papers from anywhere. He loved reading them from cover to cover. Possibly he was comforted by the fact that they are all pretty much the same. He didn't mind at all if he didn't know the town. He just loved local papers.

  9. Ours is great. The same stories keep recycling to be met with the same tutting and commentary every time. It's like reading a timewarp.

    Trekking in via A-Z and newly following.