Loss of rival newspaper is cause for real regret
The last edition of the Whitstable Times came out last week, leaving the town with only one newspaper.
It’s a sad day. The Times has been reporting from this town since 1864.
I wrote for the paper from 1999 to 2008. There were two columnists at the time, myself and Steve Regan. We were a bit like a double act, always winding each other up: Steve from a right-wing perspective, and myself from the left. John Nurden was the editor.
Steve and I stopped writing for the paper after the financial crash of 2008, when the owners decided they could no longer afford to pay the columnists. I got a job with the Gazette and have been writing here ever since.
People will remember the Times’ office in Cromwell Road. It was opposite the old Royal Mail delivery office, so I could finish work in the one and step over the road to the other in less than a minute.
What the loss of the Times highlights is two fundamental things. Firstly it shows the failure of the capitalist system to defend people and their jobs.
Money was sucked from the real economy in order to shore up the banks. Many businesses went under and the austerity narrative began to drive the political agenda. The paper was forced to sell off its assets, becoming ever more distant from the town.
The offices moved to Canterbury first, and then to Margate, during which time it was also downgraded to a free paper.
The second thing it shows is the impact of the internet on people’s reading habits. Many people simply do not read newspapers any more, preferring to get their news from social networking platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
But these sites do not generate their own content: they are dependent on news gathered from other sites, and on their users to share it around.
It’s important that Whitstable still has a proper newspaper like the Gazette to represent it, but I can’t help thinking that the news landscape has become a little more one-dimensional with the loss of its historic rival.
From The Whitstable Gazette 05/10/17
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Some CJ Stone stories from the Whitstable Times
- Rants and Revelations: Columns from the Whitstable Times: Al Qaeda, remember, were the guys who hijacked four planes and blew out the heart of New York. So now they have changed their tactics it seems. No longer satisfied with ruthless efficiency, they’ve decided to try stupidity instead.
- Computer Troubles: Columns from the Whitstable Times: You’ve heard about Artificial Intelligence? My computer already seems to have developed a version of it. Not Artificial Intelligence, exactly, more like Artificial Attitude. It has a mind of its own, and is showing definite signs of wilful behaviour
- Semi-Skimmed Democracy: Stories from the Whitstable Times: The word “oligarchy” is from the Greek. It means rule by the few. The few are a political and economic elite who cream off the wealth for themselves. What we have is a form of semi-skimmed democracy
- Drug Problem or Drug Solutions: columns from the Whitstable Times: Ask yourself this: why is there more crime on this planet now than there used to be? Part of the reason, surely, is that we have made more things illegal.
- War and Asylum: Columns from the Whitstable Times: In the controversy surrounding the issue of asylum seekers, we tend to forget some of the very real human stories that lie behind it.
- Welcome To The Future: Columns from the Whitstable Times If someone on the outside presses the button for opening the door, then the door will swish open gracefully, leaving you fully exposed to the strategically placed seat opposite
- Short, Back & Sides: columns from the Whitstable Times: Crosby Stills Nash and Young sang a song about it. In those days hair was a revolutionary statement. But what’s its purpose? That’s the question on CJ Stone’s mind.