Interesting news from my old patch today with the announcement of the launch of a new print-first weekly newspaper for Tunbridge Wells, a well-heeled Kentish town whose media landscape is currently dominated by the Local World-owned Kent and Sussex Courier. The decision to launch The Times of Tunbridge Wells with a print focus comes at a time when the march of the local press seems to be almost exclusively towards digital, as evidenced by the decision by Trinity Mirror last year to go online-only in Berkshire.
I was particularly struck – for two reasons – by this quote from Times of Tunbridge Wells editorial director Richard Moore given to the Press Gazette:
The Courier’s main emphasis is online, our main focus will be to provide quality print copy. We will have a more serious news approach and also cover national news.
I still remember the moment I realised – beyond doubt – that I wanted to be a journalist. It was the autumn of 2006 and Leo Whitlock, then editor of the Kentish Express in Ashford, had invited me into his newsroom for a week of work experience.
The work was the usual fare assigned to the eager but inexperienced: bashing out a bit of filler and the chance to grab a byline or two with some safe human interest tales. But what I remember to this day was my disbelief that this was actually considered work. Here was a room full of clever people, being nosy and argumentative, drinking tea and cracking jokes – all while producing something that thousands of people would read each and every week.
I knew immediately that this was the kind of life I wanted to experience for myself.
Last weekend was spent in West Wales, staying in the wonderful Carmarthenshire village of Laugharne and visiting family in Carmarthen and Llandysul.
Naturally I picked up a copy of the local newspaper, partly to see what was on the agenda locally and partly to satisfy my geeky urge to pore over the design and content of a product I hadn’t encountered before.