New, Improved Swindon Advertiser July 2013   Leave a comment

swindon advertiser 44percent price rise

The Swindon Advertiser ran an identical page (pictured above) in their daily issue each of the six days from 24th to 29th June 2013 to justify a price rise from 45 pence to 65 pence.  This news came as quite a shock: the Swindon Advertiser actually HAS an editor?  Who knew?

[Note about the lead sentence of this blog entry: it contains Who, What, Where, When, How and Why.  It would, thus, be deemed a sackable offence were it to appear in the pages of the Adver.  Also note that it might be advisable to make at least a minimal change in content, day-to-day, in an article justifying a content-based increase in price.]

As a daily reader of the Adver and former press liaison at the Defense Information School in my short tenure as a soldier, I have taken great pleasure critiquing the paper as better suited to a much smaller town.  Let’s look at how the first week of the 44.4% price rise panned out, shall we?

Newsworthiness and Proportion

2013-07-01 front page teaser missing man

[Note: This story continues to build at post-time; sincere condolences to his family.]  The front page on 1 July was eye catching and promised drama within (and which built to a tragic conclusion later in the week).  Without going all “Eats Shoots and Leaves” on the front page teaser (“Where are you, Tom?” vs “Where are you Tom?”), the inquisitive reader could look forward to the answers to a few questions.  Who is Tom? What do the colleagues have to say about the events of Friday evening’s “work do” in the lead up to his disappearance?  Did he leave alone and was he very drunk or not noticeably so? His wife says he sometimes comes home quite late; could he have popped into one of the late-night clubs on the way to the bus? What other incidents have occurred at or near this venue?

2013-07-01 new mascot gets more column inches than missing man lead article

Inside we find that this potentially compelling story merited 9½ column inches of highly repetitive prose (see above).  By comparison, the 10¼ column inches of text allocated to the search for a new Swindon Town FC mascot was written better and contained more information relevant to the story (although the relevance of the story remains what it is).  Both of these stories were eclipsed by coverage of the dragon boat race (my cat’s pick of the day):

2013-07-01 two page spread on dragon boat race

 

Fire Brigade Filler

On 2 July, there were eight headlined articles and one photograph from Fire Brigade log entries.  Most of the ‘articles’ were like these, intended to take up excess space despite having information meriting no more than a tweet’s 140 characters, each:

2013-07-02 fire filler

Puns

2013-07-02 isle pun

It is a British newspaper staple, the punning headline: overused and rarely clever.  Most are harmless, though, and can even be relevant to the story on a feature as in the case, above, where a teacher is heading off to a job in the Falklands (although the point that he is already on an “Isle” appears to have escaped the editorially staff).  The next example, though…

2013-07-02 poo pun

was laboured and grasped at a puerile aspect of the article which had several much more interesting elements  within.  For instance, buried in the last three paragraphs was a discussion of “local resolution” as a way of dealing with the offenders outside of the courts; inverted pyramid structure would dictate this was the LEAST important aspect of the article.  Additionally, the modernised police work involving DNA testing of the dung (I shit you not) deserved a more prominent place in the piece as might the attempted arson by this little arsehole along with his unhygienic hijinks (see how any jackass can do these puns?).

Pets

The number of “lost moggy” articles has plummeted since the increased price was implemented.  In the past, we’ve seen as many as 10 per week while this week we only noted XXX.  Although a point of ridicule, it was also one of the most endearing quirks of the paper and I just hope there haven’t been a lot of kitties going stray (rather than this being a management decision).

2013-07-03 pet

Letters

The letters from readers section has been expanded giving voice to more than the 3 or 4 news trolls that have predominated the 2½ years I’ve been reading this rag.  It is an especially interesting mix we now have from the folks I agree with like this woman who wonders why the worst of American shite low-culture is imported:

proms letter

to this fellow who acts as a most apt spokesman for UKIP:

coloureds ruining the nhs vote ukip

Conclusions

Despite my misgivings noted above I have to admit the paper seems more like a professional enterprise than in recent years.  It serves the community first without neglecting the role the community serves in the larger society and it is now doing so with dignity and maturity that was lacking.  Who knows if it will last (or if the daily stories of lost kitties will return–I sure hope so)?  So, regardless of any mocking tone, the Adver retains my support; besides, it’s my local rag: I need it more than it needs my approval.

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