Friday, September 02, 2011

Folding paper could be much worse than it sounds

Some fish and chips, sold by a fish and chip shop yesterday 

D-Day is looming for our two local papers: the Petersfield Proust and Petersfield Harold.

The newspaper industry is in rapid decline and local media expert Meg Azine believes one of the papers may be forced to fold before Christmas owing to a dearth of suitable stories.

She explained: “Recently the papers have been able to exist on a diet of exam result pictures, prom pictures and pages of pictures taken at events like the summer festivities. It’s got like a middle-class Hello! 

“But with summer almost behind us these options are no longer open to the newspapers. They have to start finding proper stories and there just aren’t enough to go around.

“The economy has hit them hard: with university fees going up next year, fewer private-school kids are able to take a year off to try to go round the world and ask for financial support in the paper while being photographed on their bike, in their canoe or simply looking posh.

“Every available piece of land appears to have been built on so there are no residents’ campaigns to feature; there are fewer and fewer ‘vicious attacks’ or murders for neighbours to ‘come to terms with’; banks can no longer afford to print giant cheques to hand over to allotment holders; and if we get a traffic warden even the letters page might have to go.

“Already we have seen stories such as ‘fish and chip shop sells fish and chips’ and ‘ex-railway worker has shiny top hat’. And a local non-entity has even been given his own column to pad out the Proust. The signs are not good.”

However, local entrepreneur Osama Ben Hurry, a specialist in “stepping in at the last minute to save the day” plans to step in at the last minute to save the day. He claims to have an idea which would enable both papers to survive at least until the new year.

“It’s called the Christmas Festivities,” he said. “I thought we could shut the High St for three days, have some live music, some Christmas-themed stalls and a special big arrow pointing from the War Memorial to Café Fusso, so nobody misses out on business.

“It will provide lots of stories in the run-up to Christmas if we come up with some awards and some disgruntled shopkeepers – and there’s never any shortage of those in Petersfield. And afterwards there will be enough pictures of small children wrapped up warm and old men in shiny suits to last well into January.

“Then if we launch an Easter Festivities we should have enough material to last until the next murder happens. It would be a tragedy if this small town lost its overpriced and news-light local papers.”

A spokesman for the Petersfield Harold denied the newspaper was facing an uncertain future.

“There is no truth in the rumour of our potential demise,” he insisted. “Only this week in our editorial meeting we discussed the possibility of a ‘biggest sunflower’ competition and the use of more ‘news’ from Haslemere. It’s business as usual here.”

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