This article is an Interview with Tim Harrison, editor of my local paper The Good Life. This is a fantastic ‘good news’ story for print. Completely ‘bucking’ the trend for all things going digital, Tim Harrison launched a local tabloid newspaper in 2012 for a small community of residents in this leafy corner of SW London. I was pleased to catch up with him in a local coffee shop to hear more about the success story.
So Tim, tell us more about The Good Life?
Tim: So, my background is local newspapers and business magazines and I had been thinking about the general demise of local papers. Too many are full of bad news stories and information about crime supplied by the police. They tend to be full of ‘mugshots’ of local criminals. I wanted to create something that was local and responded positively to the stories in our local community. Something that reflects the nature of a local community and why people like living here.
We launched our tabloid newspaper with a circulation of around 2,000. It is now up to nearer 12,000 with a pass-on readership of many more. It is normally 12 pages and is printed in an unusual ‘Berliner’ tabloid size with full colour to allow us to use lots of strong photographs.
Why do you think it’s successful? I think there is something special about ‘local’ news. It reflects the personality of a town and the people who live there. A lot of national newspapers and even online news is controlled. There is an agenda! They don’t seem to be accountable to the readership. In fact, they try to influence the readership. When you edit a local paper, people see you in the street or on the doorstep. I still deliver the newspaper to front doors – it makes me more accountable.
In a way we are volunteer-led and therefore we want people to feel good about supporting the newspaper. I have a set of volunteers who deliver it and a couple of people who regularly contribute articles. It like it is a crowd-funded venture.
Now The Good Life has been running for a few years, what do people think of it?
We know that readers love it. It sums up that local feeling and I think the advertisers like to be associated with a feel-good product that is about supporting the local community.
So where is it printed?
Locally, of course, by Direct Colour; known for their lithographic and digital printing. They print our job on the latest ‘instant-drying’ Komori Lithrone press. This ensures the workflow moves swiftly around the production floor, and with computer-integrated processing, providing powerful productivity and high print quality. Not like the old days of typesetting and hot metal when I started!