I’VE just had a quick glance over our last few editions of The Press, as we prepare to launch a brand-new edition of the newspaper into neighbouring Morley and district.
Today’s shocking petrol bomb attack on Coun Masood Ahmed’s family must have terrified – and terrorised – those close-knit families in Savile Town, just yards from the Markazi mosque. Hopefully the mosque’s proliferation of CCTV cameras can assist police in identifying the culprits.
Last week’s front page was crazy taxi driver killer Yasir Qadoos; the week before a billion-pound drug bust – that’s a lot of wacky baccy – featured Vojtech Dano and Ivan Turtak from the Flatts area of Dewsbury. Somehow, I doubt they were born up in the Ridings building at Dewsbury District Hospital.
To start October, Batley’s Faisal Khan got banged up for trying to smuggle 850,000 quid across the Channel.
My, that’s an awful lot of £4.99 car washes, or cash-bought takeaways if you can’t put them through your normal bank account (and out of interest, last week I stood in line at my bank in Dewsbury where a young chap was depositing fist-sized bundles of £10 and £20 notes – what businesses generate those levels of cash these days, I wonder…?)
And as Khan was starting his six-year money laundering sentence on p1 of October 4, in that space on September 27, a Dewsbury man, Mohammed Tahir Ayaz, was reported as residing in a Pakistani jail cell after trying to smuggle £2m of heroin into the UK. Like you do.
My, how Dewsbury and Batley have changed since my dim and distant youth – and I suspect that’s rather an understatement.
I don’t think I need to expand on that theme particularly, but I suspect the front pages of our Morley & District Press might feature a somewhat different news demographic. We shall see, because as ever in this job, the driving agenda – the only agenda – is to follow the news where it leads, without fear or favour.
But why a new edition and why Morley? Back when I was editor-in-chief of the Reporter Group my responsibilities included the thriving Morley Observer, which then had a rival weekly in the Morley Advertiser.
They merged some years ago, under their recently bankrupt Johnston Press parent group, and even the combined paper died a death early this summer.
I hadn’t been to Morley for years until invited to a meeting of people from both politics, business and sport, who wanted us to start including Morley news in The Press.
After all, the old Morley ‘borough’ has more than 60,000 residents, and all they have left is the Yorkshire Evening Post, which now sells a pathetic 7,000-odd copies across a circulation area of millions of people.
I deduced that it wasn’t fair on either set of readers to just include Morley news in The Press – the issues are different, the audience is different; we couldn’t do justice to either and that’s the whole point here.
The Morley Ob/Advertiser died a slow death because like the Reporter/Batley News/Spen Guardian it’s produced on a shoestring, by people who don’t know the towns, and care less about the people.
As for dealing with tough issues? They steer as far away as possible. ‘News’? Only when it’s been sanitised. And that’s not our way.
These have been strange years for UK newspapers, with an almost fanatical fascination with online content and social media. The big groups, especially in the regional press, have basically ditched print while chasing the gold they think lies at the foot of the digital rainbow. So far, none of them have found it, or even look like finding it.
Me? I’m a bit old fashioned. As I tell the staff: “Print – it’s the new digital”. In fact my daughter wanted a record player and some classic vinyl LPs for her birthday. There’s a clue in that.
Facebook isn’t our newspapers’ competition – it’s our friend. It’s a direct marketing tool for helping spread the message of a committed local newspaper, to committed local people.
And in the words of some sage cleverer than me – if you don’t shoot, you’re never going to score. Wish us luck.
DON’T ask me what’s next in the Brexit fiasco, because all I can say is that nothing has changed, not since June 24th 2016 when the referendum verdict stopped the world in its tracks.
The Remain rump in Parliament were determined from that day to this – led by the woeful Theresa May, tragically – to sabotage our leaving the EU.
This week’s vote of MPs, which ‘backed’ Boris Johnson’s deal? A bare-faced lie. Those MPs knew after a meaningless show of support that they would proceed to water it down endlessly.
Here’s how farcical the situation is: they overwhelmingly threw out May’s deal, which kept us suckling off the Brussels teat to all intents on purposes. It was unpalatable for patriotic Leavers and snowflake Remoaners equally. Johnson’s deal – which they purport to support – actually distances us further from the EU, complete anathema to the Remain Parliament.
So the deceit goes on, pretending to take Johnson’s deal seriously while perpetually angling for either a customs union (we’d be better off staying in), a second referendum where they hope against hope for a public u-turn, and ongoing indefinite extensions from the EU itself.
If anyone can explain Labour’s position, I’d be eternally grateful. They seem to want to remain while respecting the leave vote, they want an election but not now, and a second vote that they’ll probably campaign against. Or something like that.
It’s Groundhog Day, with the lot of them clueless as to how they would resolve it, and none of them – except Boris and friends – courageous enough to get it done.
That treacherous House needs a good clear out. A general election cannot come soon enough.
IT WOULD be funny if it wasn’t so borderline sad. A pampered Prince Harry and his celebrity princess cynically manipulate the media … to slag off the media.
That’s possibly more stupid than flying a private jet to a climate change conference. For a lad who charmed the nation and served his country in combat zones, Harry has suddenly gone all celeb-softie. I think I know who wears the trousers in the Sussex household.
And if this fairytale marriage breaks apart – especially if they have made good on their threat to decant to California or South Africa – that is going to make for one very feisty custody battle. Let’s hope Harry and Meghan manage to find some peace and quiet away from the cameras they seem so magnetically drawn to. Oh, and a dose of much needed common sense.
BREAKING news from Batley & Spen Brexit Party gal Jill Hughes.
In her latest call to campaigners she called for more “Jedis” to assist her “Galactic Federation”, because although “the FORCE is with us” they need to help “THE EMPIRE STRIKE BACK” (her capital letters).
Apparently “here in Batley and Spen it’s a choice between Corbyn or Chewbacca”. She urgently needs co-pilots, she says.
Judging by that, I’d venture that Ms Hughes needs a bit more than co-pilots.
Shame I’m more of a Star Trek kind of bloke...