I ALWAYS knew the day would come when I had to write this column. I just never knew when.
Last week I got a letter from a gent in Lincolnshire who used to get The Press sent by a pal who sadly died recently. He was asking if he could get it posted. I had to write back and tell him there was no point – because next week will be the final Ed Lines, and the final edition of both The Press and our new Morley edition.
It’s particularly poignant coming just two weeks after our 18th birthday on March 9th, but sadly it’s become inevitable.
Looking back, we haven’t done badly, given that people gave us six weeks when we launched and even our friends didn’t think we’d make more than six months.
How has it come to this? Well, it isn’t the coronavirus, although it would probably have finished us off anyway. But the die was cast last October – and as they read this, the Labour councillors and senior executives of Kirklees Council will be raising glasses and toasting our demise. Finally, they’ve done it. Seen us off.
No one left to expose their electoral fraud cover-ups or their collusion with criminal fraudsters; no more front pages holding bent councillors and officers to account. It’s a great day for them, a sad day for democracy.
It took us 14 years to get to tender for the council’s public notice advertising and when we won the contract in 2016, our price was so competitive it saved council tax payers tens of thousands of pounds a year. The council officer who made our bid possible paid for it with his job. Kirklees brought in a particularly malign individual named Mark McAdam as head of media and communications. I was already singularly unimpressed by chief exec Jacqui Gedman’s hatchet-man before I heard McAdam had a screaming fit at the editor of the Huddersfield Examiner and a Local Democracy reporter over the coverage the council gets.
Hmm. I can’t imagine why I wasn’t invited to the PR functionary’s bollocking … he obviously has a strong personal survival instinct.
Anyway, the public advertising contract went out to tender last autumn and despite ours being far and away the most competitive price, Kirklees Council dreamt up a way to disqualify us, based on our circulation and distribution data.
It was all kosher – it hadn’t changed from 2016 – and it was all independently verified, but Kirklees had contrived a way to sink us.
So, did the contract go to The Reporter Group?
No. Kirklees gave it to a Scottish media agency who don’t publish anything, but buy space in Reporter newspapers and take a cut. It’s costing Kirklees readers at least a fortune.
There was one problem though – the Scottish firm couldn’t deliver on the contract, so McAdam asked if we’d keep carrying the ads for several more weeks, even though he’d decided we weren’t qualified to!
I’M NOT laying our closure directly at Kirklees’s door.
Any business that is reliant on one customer isn’t a viable business. The fact is, North Kirklees has changed beyond all recognition since 2002, both the ethnic/community demographic, and the retail/commercial profile.
Yes, there’s still a massive appetite for a professional, independent newspaper like The Press that tries to hold people in power to account and I have no doubt a lot of people will miss us. But there just isn’t the advertising-base to sustain the business.
That’s one reason we launched the Morley edition, to try offset the lost Kirklees revenue, but it simply hasn’t worked out. So it’s time to go, with one last edition, next Friday, March 27th.
Just to put it on the record, that piece of Kirklees skulduggery cost nearly 40 teens, active elderly, and our fabulous Social Services special-needs delivery team their part-time jobs.
Another six full-time staff, plus me, and about 10 freelance staff for whom we were the primary source of income, will be out of work.
Another town centre office will be empty and a significant chunk of money will be lost to the local economy.
I wish McAdam had been in our office when the distraught Social Services people came in asking for their jobs back, thinking they’d done something wrong.
No guys, none of you have. If anyone’s to blame it’s me, for thinking we could fight malignantly corrupt institutions.
So, I’m sorry. We tried our best.
THE following may well prove to be my editorial epitaph: ‘Here lies Locky – we told him it was more than a cough...’
Like the mum watching her son march off to war: “Ooh, look at my little Johnny, he’s the only one marching in step!” I am still calling BS on the global hysteria, which threatens to decimate far more lives than any of the seasonal flu outbreaks that routinely hit us.
According to social media I’m a “retarded denier”, and a “spreader of dangerous disinformation” (inferring I’m the problem, not Covid-19).
But here’s why I remain sceptical – experts. True, there are plenty of invaluable ones. Crack on, guys. But do you know when I think experts get dangerous? When you put them in front of the rabid MSM – the mainstream media.
These mostly introverted academics, faced with the spotlight, go all Brexit. Brexit? Yes, Brexit. Remember those ‘experts’? “A vote to leave will wipe out a million jobs, empty the City of London, ruin the economy, bring a generation of 1940s-like hardship?”
They were all experts. They all knew best, with no “ifs, buts or maybe”. It was Armageddon, full stop. Except of course it was the exact opposite.
I wonder where those ‘experts’ are now? Probably looking over their bifocals at a spreadsheet, sighing at how their 15 minutes of fame was so sadly misjudged. They’ll be blaming someone/something else. Experts are good at that.
And we have the same now. ‘Experts’ scrambling to out-predict each other on the impending Black Death-like toll if we don’t heed their infinite wisdom, revelling in the limelight. Except that none are so expert that they’ve actually been through this before. It’s “statistics” and “projections” and most troubling to me, completely without a balancing argument.
Where’s the other side? Because there is one, although good luck finding it. The MSM aian’t interested in that. Scaremongering sells.
I totally agree we need to protect the elderly and sick – much like every winter. In 2014/15 there were 43,850 excess flu deaths above ‘the norm’ in England and Wales alone and in 2017/18 another 50,100 excess flu deaths. Why? The ‘experts’ predicted the wrong strain. The vaccines didn’t work. So much for the experts, eh? But I don’t recall anyone stopping the world.
Like Brexit, only one hysterical side fits the MSM agenda and sheep-like populist politicians follow on, terrified of being the ones to call BS, ramping up the coronamania in a fantastical game of “I’ll see your £50 billion and raise it £100 billion”.
Let me know when the NHS announces the first CV death of an otherwise healthy individual, because you know they’re desperate for one, to ratchet up the public terror.
Still, better skint for a generation, albeit with probably more suicides of broken, hardworking people, than ever there will be unseasonal deaths from CV.
And if half you lot actually have expired by midsummer? My apologies. Shame there’ll be no Press for you to rant back…