Some people think it [this blog] is all over… It isn’t now!
So my post today is a bit of a rant about local tabloid newspapers.
As I think I may have mentioned before, one of my early decisions during Juliet’s illness was that I would place the usual obituary notice not just in our local newspaper but in the local newspapers of all the school areas where she previously worked. A slightly unusual request for my funeral directors, but they complied, and gave me the estimated costs. I swallowed hard at the latter, but they could have been twice the price and I still would have done it, so they were duly published. My reasoning went something along these lines: in Yeovil for example, a grandmother notices the obituary, sees J’s maiden name and the mention of teaching of many primary school children since 1985. She tells her 30-year old daughter and the daughter thinks – “Oh! I remember Miss Self! She taught me to read and write”.
In my naiviety, this only has to happen once across the five regions for it all to be worthwhile. I will almost certainly never know if this happens or not. But like I say, if it does, then it’s worth it and the cost is irrelevant. If you don’t agree, no problem. Go and spend the money on a nice new TV instead. No, a really nice new one.
At the prices they charge, you might think you’d get a complimentary hardcopy of the paper as well. But no, just a link to the website. However, working for a large national company I was able to call on colleagues or friends in the various areas and get them to search out the relevant copies. One colleague, working in the US, even had his wife traipsing round the supermarkets for me. Today I received the last hardcopy paper from a pal. Now step forwards the editor of the East Grinstead Courier & Observer. For their paper had printed J’s obituary with a trefoil cross clip-art above it. Like this:
Now I am not anti-religion, anti-Christian or even anti-most things. But I am an atheist (Humanist actually) and I certainly am anti-sloppiness, anti-inconsiderateness, anti-rudeness, call it what you will.
So I fired off a “disgusted of Oxford” email to the editor : “…On what grounds did your sub-editors decide that it was appropriate to place any kind of religious symbol in such a notice without first checking with either the funeral directors or myself?” We’ll see what the response is.
And another thing. While I’m here… This is not particularly the fault of the individual papers, but each local paper has gone considerably down-market since I remember reading them. Let’s have a look at the headlines on each paper’s front page:
East Grinstead Courier & Observer: “Man let chicken be pecked bald”
Yeovil Western Gazette: “Two held after stabbing” and “Free jam doughnut for every reader”
Croydon Guardian: “Shop them all” (the riots had been in full flow)
Banbury Guardian: “Greggs – Buy one, Get one free! [cream cakes]” and the sad death of a local teenager in a road accident.
Only the Oxford Times had a sober headline, about fast broadband coming to the area. Well, it’s important in Oxfordshire I suppose.
Not much of an indictment of our provincial areas in mid-August 2011 is it?