I am having a real hard time with my understanding of 'community news'. Just what the fuck does it mean to be a community newspaper.
My idea of a community newspaper is one that tells people in the area stuff they don't know.
It should inform, educate, entertain and, at times, purposefully shock. Wake the fuckers up and provoke debate.
So what is the true value of traditional 'community' stories.
I am talking about kids at fetes with their faces painted; heads shaved; mountain climbers; marathon runners; walks for life, cancer, amnesia or AIDS; photo ops with the mayor, MPs or council leaders; self promoting crap from businesses 'who care'; school plays; fashion shows; fetes; galas; flowers shows and the hateful cheque presentation.
THIS IS NOT NEWS!!!!!! It is shit. Every day I get phone calls, emails, requests from people with these 'stories'. I sorely want to tell them to fuck off (sometimes I do).
Now, I clearly understand the commercial side. Kids pics in papers sell copies, sell photos. But this is not the point I am making about the news value.
Do readers who weren't involved or don't know the individuals really give a shit? Or do they flick across this tedious upchuck like I do every time I look at a local paper?
Who really cares about it except for the people who were actually there to witness it? (and presumably took their own pics to boot).
It strikes me as rather than serving the community, it is an exercise in self promotion for those involved. (Schools now NEED to attract new pupils thus explaining the increased numbers of 'great positive community stories'.)
If you want to raise cash for charity, just do it. Why do you need recognition for it?
If you want to get in the local paper for doing it try getting some originality.....monkey wrestling, naked sudoku, recreate the egg eating scene from Cool Hand Luke....I would even take a genuine bath of beans.
The worst thing, I am forced to run this dribble and I fucking hate it. If I see the word 'fun' in a headline or intro again this week I am liable to kill.
I only run this tosh in order to fill holes that can't be filled with real, meaningful stories because I don't have enough staff to produce the copy required.
Now, don't misunderstand what I am saying. A little of these events can lift a paper. A nice bit of balance. A great picture from one of these events can make a page sing.
But due to management cuts I am finding myself having less quality control over the events I cover.
Instead of a great pic of kids playing among bubbles or a genuinely interesting original charity event I am running the most pathetic, self taken out of focus shots of the dullest order.
We control the leads we run, why not the down pages and fillers too?
The only cheque presentation shot I want to see is when the over sized piece of cards slips out of the Mayor's hand and decapitates one of the simpering children.