Friday, 31 May 2013

Regional newspapers ... you're having a laugh

I have long banged on to editors, news-editors, features editors and anyone else who would listen, about using more funny stuff in regional newspapers. Largely, it must be said, it has been with limited success. In the main, the Posts, Echos and Chronicles remain worthy and po-faced. On news-editing courses, I used to ask delegates to identify things in their paper that were genuinely entertaining. The record is three – including the horoscopes and the ubiquitous Horace and Doris. One respected editor once told me humour simply wasn’t part of his remit. “We are here to reflect the community, not tell jokes,” he said. His paper was crammed with crime, courts and coffee mornings – a reflection of his readers’ lives.

There have been some worthy exceptions. Peter Barron at The Northern Echo, Mike Lowe, Alan Geere and, from Norwich, Nigel Pickover are among those editors who have always worked hard at giving their readers a smile. Now, the web has confirmed what we always knew. People like a laugh. The stories that get the big hits are the funny, the weird and the outrageous. So as the holy grail is now unique visitors, local newspapers are hunting down the whacky, particularly if it's on video. So, at last, maybe humour will be the saviour of the regional Press.

I am grateful to InPublishing magazine for allowing me to bang on a bit louder this month and publish my thoughts on humour in newspapers ... who does it well and who doesn't. If you are minded, and you have great eyesight, you can read it on the images above. If not, you can read it on InPublishing's website here.


  1. While I agree with your sentiments about humour in newspapers, I'm afraid I find the video of the couple in Mansfield tragic rather than funny. Two alcoholics arguing in the street, with the male participant standing meekly as his other half berates him and assaults him. Imagine for a moment if the roles were reversed. Would you find it funny to see a woman being attacked in the street? Would you applaud the nosy neighbours for videoing through their net curtains without making any attempt to intervene? Sorry Peter, I think you need to look elsewhere for examples of humour in newspapers (and on websites) and the Nottingham Post should think again about putting this video up, with the scantiest of covering stories. I know I will come across as a po-faced Guardianista for expressing these sentiments, but I can assure you I am neither. Ask Alan Geere and Nigel Pickover.

  2. No John, I know you aren't a po-faced Guardianista. I have looked at the video again and you are right. The couple clearly have issues - perhaps alcoholism or something else. Anyway, I have removed it. Good call.

  3. In the interests of constructive feedback ... THIS is a genuinely funny video. Uplifting and heart-warming. Shame it happened at Chelsea FC though.