A story from Hold The Front Page struck a chord.
It featured comments from a former Yorkshire Evening Post reporter called Peter Lazenby who said regional journalism was “completely in crisis” and unrecognisable from the industry he joined in the 1970s.
Then, he said: “We used to dispatch a reporter and photographer on spec for three days to the Yorkshire Dales, or over to the east coast to talk to fisher folk and people working on the docks, just seeing what we could pick up – and as a direct result of that the most wonderful stories used to occur.”
But Andrew Lambert, the director of Newsmaker PR and Video Production Ltd, said those days had gone by the mid-1980s when he started working on newspapers in Kent.
“My first job was on a bi-weekly and it was a really traditional newspaper which served its community well. But we didn’t cover courts because they took up too much time and we spent most of our days on the phone or re-writing press releases,” he said.
Snappers would even take a form to fill in when they photographed couples celebrating their golden wedding anniversaries.
They would note details of the couples’ family, jobs and where they met and give the form to a reporter to write up the story back in the office.
“The last question on the form asked the couples to give the secret of their long and happy marriage. So many of them said “Give and Take” that photographers would often write G & T as shorthand,” said Andrew.
“So, on one memorable occasion, the form came back with G & T on it and was handed to the most junior reporter in the office who had been assigned to write an extended picture caption about this particular couple. I would like to stress that it was not me. The reporter thought he could work up a nice angle so described how Gin and Tonic had kept the couple going through their 50 years of marriage. The story duly appeared, closely followed by an angry phone call from the couple in question who had been teetotal all their lives.”