Edi­tor’s com­ment

Cotswold Life - - NEWS -

IHAVE spent a deal of time re­cently pon­der­ing the past as we mark the 50th An­niver­sary of this mighty or­gan. Those of us who have been around dur­ing that half-cen­tury have cer­tainly had a won­der­ful time of it com­pared to most other eras. The ad­vances in ev­ery as­pect of life – health, wealth, food, trans­port, tech­nol­ogy – have come at us fast and fu­ri­ous. In fact, the only real ret­ro­grade step I can think of is the sad demise of Con­corde.

With­out doubt, the most sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ments of the past 50 years have been the in­ven­tion of per­sonal com­put­ers (from desk­top machines to mo­bile phones to in-car sat navs) and the plethora of dig­i­tal worlds that the in­ter­net has cre­ated. We are now so de­pen­dent on in­stant con­nec­tion for ev­ery­thing from shop­ping to spell­ing that liv­ing with­out it is al­most un­think­able. (I re­cently had to write a col­umn when my broad­band had gone down. It took me twice as long and I ac­tu­ally had to re­fer to books.)

While the ar­rival of so­cial me­dia in the form of Twit­ter, Face­book, In­sta­gram et al (I can’t keep up with them all) has con­nected ev­ery in­di­vid­ual to a wider world, in a way it has made us more in­su­lar as well. That’s be­cause the dig­i­tal com­pany we keep is self-se­lected. We choose who to fol­low and who to read. We ex­ist in a so­cial me­dia bub­ble into which no out­sider is al­lowed. This in­evitably means that we miss out on new ideas, new con­tent, new in­spi­ra­tion. And that is where a good news­pa­per or mag­a­zine comes in.

An edi­tor who re­ally knows his or her read­er­ship (or tar­get read­er­ship) puts to­gether a ver­i­ta­ble selec­tion box of words and pic­tures, some of which the con­sumer would never have ex­pected to come across. On Cotswold Life we ac­tively look for at least one fea­ture a month that has this Gee-whizz fac­tor. That is the art, and at the heart, of what we do.

Un­for­tu­nately, those peo­ple who rely only on the in­ter­net for their news and views don’t en­joy this breadth of thought, and their in­creas­ing num­bers have partly brought about the demise of the re­gion’s two daily news­pa­pers, The Cit­i­zen and the Glouces­ter­shire Echo. These two fine ti­tles go weekly as of this month af­ter head of­fice man­age­ment de­cided that their daily sale no longer jus­ti­fied the ex­pense of pro­duc­tion. It is a sad, if prob­a­bly in­evitable, de­ci­sion. Glouces­ter in par­tic­u­lar has a news­pa­per his­tory dat­ing back to the found­ing of the Glouces­ter Jour­nal by Robert Raikes in 1722 – a full 50 years be­fore the United States of Amer­ica even ex­isted. And the city can ill af­ford to lose its voice when it is cul­tur­ally and eco­nom­i­cally resur­gent. I sin­cerely hope that the move to weekly re­vi­talises these news­pa­pers and ex­tends their ex­is­tence in print.

IT MAY come as a ter­ri­ble shock to those who live in their own ‘Hate the Daily Mail’ bub­ble, but work­ing class hero John Len­non was ac­tu­ally a reader of that much-re­viled (and very suc­cess­ful) news­pa­per. The ev­i­dence comes at us di­rect from 1967 and the lyrics to A Day in the Life from the ground-break­ing Sergeant Pep­per’s Lonely Hearts Club Band al­bum.

On Jan­uary 7 of that year, the Mail car­ried a re­port about the death of a friend of Len­non’s, Tara Browne, who drove into the back of a lorry at 106mph in Kens­ing­ton. “He blew his mind out in a car...” That same day’s news­pa­per also car­ried a story about there be­ing 4,000 pot­holes in the town of Black­burn, Lan­cashire. So the Mail helped pen some fa­mous Bea­tles’ lyrics. Now there’s not many peo­ple know that...

THE other big prob­lem with the in­ter­net is that sud­denly ev­ery­one is a writer. No mat­ter how point­less, ba­nal or badly writ­ten they might be, cy­berspace is over­flow­ing with bor­ing per­sonal blogs dron­ing on about ev­ery­thing from cats to cricket. And they all have one thing in com­mon – they are hideously long.

What’s that got to do with you, I hear you ask? Just don’t read them. I’m afraid it’s not that easy. Peo­ple send them to me on an al­most daily ba­sis sug­gest­ing them as our next new col­umn and I, be­ing po­lite, feel obliged to read the turgid text. I some­times even re­ply with sug­ges­tions as to how the au­thor’s writ­ing might be im­proved. Let me tell you, that doesn’t al­ways go down well.

Now the last thing I want to do is de­ter new ta­lent, but please re­mem­ber, brevity is the soul of wit. At which point I’ll sto...

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