Long live the locals

THANKS to Maxwell Hutchinson, former RIBA president and warden at a church in Exmouth Market, and Robert Elms for kind words about the New Journal and Islington Tribune and other local newspapers on Robert’s BBC London show yesterday as they celebrated the regional press. You can listen to it here, about 30 minutes in. Below is a snatch or two from their chat. Great to hear the lovely, famous old story about the Ham and High having a foreign correspondent. Nobody can deny the prestige of that paper. Long live them,  long live local papers.

ROBERT ELMS: My local paper is, the Camden New Journal, which is a freebie. Are they all free these days? Are they free or do they charge? Is the free model the one that’s taken over? The Ham and High you pay for, don’t you? Is it true, am I right in suggesting that the Ham and High, covering Hampstead and Highagte, which is obviously a very posh, very literary, very intellectual area and all that, is the only local paper with a foreign correspondent?

Am I right about that? I might be wrong but it’s a nice story anyway. My local paper, the Camden New Journal, is a really campaigning paper. It has to be said. It is forever taking the local council to task.

It campaigns on issues about social housing. It campaigns on issues about crime and all sorts of other stuff and it does a really good job I think. As well as you know: taking pictures of the school fete and kids dressed up as elves or whatever that might be. I think it is a very important resource. I do like to get the local paper coming through my door every week. You do read the same bits. It’s always the crime, you try and work out who is burgling who. That’s always a good one. But you know they’ve campaigned on schools, on trying to improve the conditions in some of our social housing on our run down estates, so it is a really important resource.

MAXWELL HUTCHINSON: I pick up the Islington Tribune, I get the Hackney local authority newspaper and I read it and I enjoy it, and I enjoy the Islington Tribune and the New Camden New Journal [sic].

RE: That’s the one I get. It’s actually a very good campaigning newspaper to be honest.

MH: I used to read the Ham and High.

RE: Now I believe, and I said this earlier on and nobody has ever disputed it, is that the Ham and High given that it is the Ham and High is the only local newspaper with a foreign correspondent. It does, it does – because it considers itself so important.

MH: I love local newspapers. All the ones that we’ve talked about so far, I’ve written for and others. And if anybody is listening from these papers, I like doing it. It doesn’t pay very much if anything at all but I find it quite fun.. I read the newspaper, it’s free and it lies around in bins in the street, not bins, distribution things in the street, which poses the question is the Evening Standard a local newspaper.

RE: Well. I think the Evening Standard is a great dilemma really because it used to be quite an important part of our lives in London. I loved the shouts of the sellers: Staaaaaandard. My feeling about the Evening Standard is that it has for a very, very long time been almost hijacked – I don’t mean in any terrible sense – but it’s either obsessed with the city or it is obsessed with very rich people in Kensington and Knightsbridge.

MH: I read it. I’m afraid I didn’t buy it until it went free.

RE: I used to buy it religiously, I mean every day, 20, 15 years ago. But it did take a tilt not just politically to the right but to a London that I know nothing about and a London I have very little interest in, a London of oligarchs and women with far too many vowels in their first names.

You still get the London Illustrated News. It still exists. I see it in my dentist’s. I think the idea of say a quarterly London journal or bi-monthly London journal would be fantastic. A good current, covering all bases London illustrated journal with great photography. It would be brilliant. Why doesn’t that exist?

A quality London quarterly. Not a bad proposal.

1 Comment on Long live the locals

  1. Nice post and nice words from Robert Elms and Max Hutchinson; the recycling of the old Ham and High foreign correspondent is quite funny. Archant executives are probably now on the hunt to check that there isn’t one that they can cut. Live radio must feature numerous old wives tales every day, there’s no fact checking process, other than people calling in.

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