And we’re off…

January 15, 2009

The Town Crier is dead. Long live the News and Crier.

After two days of pulling my hair out, slapping my forehead in frustration, tears from the ad-girls, a constant barrage of swearing, stupidily long hours and crap IT support (sounds a bit like a normal week to be fair), my relaunched paper finally hit the streets.

And I have to say I’m pretty pleased with it.

It’s bigger than my old rag with more news, more leisure, puzzles (well, a crossword) and even a weekend TV section (bit pointless really as it has no satellite).

I’ve got more resources too, or rather I have the novelty of some full-time reporters.

It was tough though, and due to the problems getting the archaic systems to work (my ‘new’ PC genuinely dates back to 2002), we didn’t manage to get started until Monday lunchtime. Pretty scary as the deadline was Tuesday night.

But we brave few (three of us) put in some long hours and managed to sub close to 40 pages, finishing at 9.30pm. Not too shoddy considering two of us didn’t know how to use the systems here and we had to manually type in all the new fonts as the style sheets don’t work.

And all that hard work clearly deserves some reader feedback. So imagine my delight when the first email I receive has the subject: “Boycoating your paper”. (Well it is a bit chilly at the moment).

To understand the nature of the complaint, the paper had a wrap to announce the relaunch, with the headline: “Have we got some great headline news for YOU!” (caps and exclamation mark were not my idea).

Below were PDFs of the final front pages of the former two newspapers – one with the M&S closure splash, the other about an armed robbery. A 40pt subdeck below explained that “we’ve combined your favourite local rags into one that’s even better”. Page 2 of the wrap details all the changes, complete with a lovely letter signed by me (I didn’t actually see ‘my’ words until the paper left the press).

Here’s a transcript of the letter:
On receiving a first copy of your News&Crier I was horrified to see the Headline reading:
Have we got some great headline news for YOU!  followed firstly by:  ‘M&S WILL AXE FOOD SHOP’   ‘Cinema terror as armed raider strikes’  and ‘Marina residents could lose homes’. 
It is an insult to all your readers at this very difficult time and not worthy of further reading for fear that the Editor may have overlooked something far more serious printed inside.
Good luck for the future!
Still, at least they signed off in a pleasant manner.