Monday, August 15, 2022

The Harborough Mail's only journalist retires

The journalist's trade website Hold the Front Page has an article on Red Williams, whose ability to inject drama into the Harborough Mail's reporting will be familiar to readers, as he retires.

What he says reveals something sad about the Harborough Mail and about local newspapers in general:

Via the Stamford Mercury, I jumped in to become the Harborough Mail’s reporter in August 2019.

Owner Johnston Press – now National World – had shut the historic weekly’s much-loved town centre HQ in 2012.

And the paper, founded in 1854, had seen better days after being effectively run remotely for eight months.

Working at home as a freelance three days a week, I pulled out all the stops to reconnect with the thriving community here. ...

It’s insane that as a part-time reporter I was trying to replicate what a fully-staffed up team had been doing.

As stalwart newspaper freelances everywhere will know, I’ve forked out for my own notebooks and pens as well as paying for my mobile and broadband.

I was paid less per day than I was earning shifting on a Saturday at the News of the World in London in 1989 – some 33 years ago!

He's right. The editor of the Harborough Mail was a considerable figure in town and would hold court in the Peacock (now Pizza Express), where I worked as a barman one student summer.

For some years now - and it's clearly not the fault of Red or anyone who's worked on the Mail in that period - the local community radio station Harborough FM has provided a better news service precisely because it has a base in the town.

I fear for the future of the Harborough Mail and other local newspapers, which appear locked into a downward spiral of cutting costs and providing a poorer product.

Still, Red is proud of breaking the story of The Great Market Harborough Bungalow Mystery.

No comments: