“It’s only the older people who think of communities now”

Abandoned High Steet (pic: Gwidion Williams)

Abandoned High Steet (pic: Gwidion Williams)

There’s a really good, detailed bit of reporting here from Friday’s Guardian about the near-collapse of local newspapers in some areas.

The starting point that Stephen Moss chose was my old local paper when I was young – The Long Eaton Advertiser. 

This bit stood out for me:

“For the older generation, these things matter. “They want to know who’s passed away,” says the barman at the Corner Pin down the road, “and to check it’s not them.” But the younger generation don’t much care. Carl and Katrina Smith, a married couple in their mid-30s, not only didn’t know the paper had closed; they didn’t even know its name – and they were born nearby and have lived in the town most of their lives. They did, though, occasionally buy the Nottingham Evening Post – mainly for the jobs. For this generation, Long Eaton as a place has almost ceased to exist, lost in a more amorphous Nottingham-Derby conurbation.

“It’s only the older people who think of communities now,” says Carl. “For us it’s more a place to live than a community.” He was an electrician’s mate and worked all over the country (until he was laid off two months ago – people are as vulnerable as papers in the slump); Katrina works in Leicester. Long Eaton is a dormitory for them; they rent a house and say they have no idea who their neighbours are.

It used to be a proper community, with the railway, the canals and the upholstery industry,” says Carl, “but look round at the shops now. You’ve got Tesco and Asda, and everything else is in decline.” There is one new shop in Long Eaton – selling Polish, Russian and Lithuanian food, to cater for migrants from eastern Europe. The shop even has free papers in those three languages, as well as Ukrainian. But they are UK-wide and won’t record deaths in Long Eaton, in any language.”

Is it the local newspaper industry that is in crisis? Or is it the very concept of ‘local’? Everyone seems to be agreed that there’s no way back for the printed local rag – is this true for the idea of locality as well?

Peter Levine – a US blogger who has a blog that should be on everyone’s RSS feed – have picked up on the Conservative Party’s expressed interest in addressing this crisis.

Levine is sceptical of the Tories ability to convert their sentiments into effective action, and is somewhat critical of the communitarian spirit that it springs from, but it’s not an unduly critical post….. why am I explaining this here? Go and read it for yourselves.

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One Response

  1. […] the Local Democracy blog in the U.K… There’s a really good, detailed bit of reporting here from Friday’s Guardian […]

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