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Fit to Blog

1st October 2017

Hello World!

For most of us September is the month we're rounded up by school, or the office. But I'm starting to think local and regional newspaper editors are rounded up by their accountants in September and told enough is enough.

At the last count, four small scale but very highly regarded UK media outlets have closed their doors to, as always, dismay from those in their catchment and further field alike.

We can debate why they didn't show their loyalty to the titles while they were still operational another time. For me, the striking thing about the commentary around these closures is the lament for the community.

The immediate sentiment it seems (and I've been through plenty of closures myself - both as a reader and a journalist) is that without the information the paper gave it, the community will be lost. There will be no heart, no awareness of each other, no connection to those around us.

I disagree for one reason - our appetite for information, for news, for content we can relate to has never been stronger.

We are increasingly addicted to social media to give us that hit of tribal inclusion that was once offered by local papers with circulations of many thousands day in, day out, and which, once upon a time, few could imagine the death of.

Our sense of community is growing, not receding. And its wider than ever before. Many of us are deeply affected, even overwhelmed by stories that happen on our doorstep to people we know. But we also respond strongly to information that originates on the other side of the world, affecting people we don't know in places we have never seen and never will.

We weep, and call for change, and donate, and sometimes change the world in real times. For those who want to know, and always have, our communities can be single streets and the whole planet all at the same time.

And that, despite my deep respect for the local paper tradition that I'm very proud to say I cut my professional teeth on, gives me huge hope.

Local paper closures aren't a symptom of our cold heartedness, or some kind of creeping isolation. They are simply a symptom of industry evolution in response to changing preferences, cutthroat as it is, and, crucially, always has been.

Today we are more connected to each other than ever before. It has had incredible, often immediate effects. From supporting victims of unimaginable cruelty to calling out truth and lie in the White House to saving lives in real time. The march of social media, of a responsive, immediate media can be overwhelming at times. But my suspicion is that it is making us more human.

I for one can't wait to see where our thirst for inclusion, for information, for knowledge, and yes even for truth, will take us next.

Kate Hughes, MD @fitforprint