Matthew Munson: Keeping the spirit of writing alive

Blogging, vlogging and hyperlocals

Times are a-changing, are they not? Election fever is hotting up, or cooling down, depending on your view, and we need a rigorous press to examine the local candidates.

Do we have that? I think we have one local outlet that does that kind of discussion, and you’re reading it now. The Isle of Thanet News, run by the esteemed Kathy (aka The Boss), does what a proper local paper should be doing; listing the candidates, inviting them to have their say, and allowing local people the opportunity to read what people actually believe in.

That’s the beauty of local journalism – when it works properly. I’ve never asked Kathy why she decided to set up the IoTN, but I’m glad that she did, as the existing journalism has been dying a slow and painful death for some time, and something needed to change.

We have two newspapers in print here in Thanet, and I pity the poor souls still left working on them; to be fair, one is vaguely better than the other, but neither particularly inspires confidence when half the papers are taken up with adverts and issues outside the area; we have regional and national papers for that, don’t we, or am I missing the point here?

The media has never been more important; with the advent of blogging, vlogging, and hyper-local journalism online, we have the opportunity to read opinions that may just conflict with our own, so our views of the world are challenged. We also have the opportunity to engage directly with people who live in the areas they’re writing about, and who actually care; unlike the journalists on the more traditional papers who, I suspect, don’t even know where Thanet is.

Thanet’s 5k Colour Run

A couple of examples; there was an article in a recent paper talking about May 2017’s Colour Run, organised by Pilgrim’s Hospice. The paper in question said that it was the first such colour run, despite the actual first run being held last year; I should know, I took part in it. Seriously, how long does it take to fact-check things that that?

Secondly, it’s also telling to see how engaging the letters pages are in local journalism; online services, including this esteemed organ, allow and encourage open discussion through comments sections and so on. In the same edition of the paper I mentioned in the previous article, there was a grand total of two letters published by local people. Two – was no-one else truly inspired to write in and feel interested in the local rag? It certainly seems like it on face value. Whenever I’m in London, I grab a copy of the Camden New Journal, a brilliant local paper that never has less than three pages of letters alone. Three pages!

I despair, I really do; local print journalism in this area is fading away. The papers that exist aren’t set-up to critique local issues any more, offer a balanced view of topics, and really investigating beneath the surface. Thank heavens for online journalism, where the line is being held; so, whether you are a blogger, vlogger, or contributor to the IoTN, thank you for keeping the spirit of effective writing alive in Thanet.