The Argus & why it annoyed me

Picked up The Argus on Wed, Oct 30, 2013. I know it’s an easy target, but here’s my scoff:

The Argus: News, Sport, Brighton and Hove Albion and Entertainment for Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

= News, Sport, Brighton and Hove Albion and Entertainment for Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

The front page news? The weather.

The storm that wasn’t. Also, green spaces under threat. There’s no story on the front to be continued, just two headlines that don’t say anything newsworthy. Maybe there’s no news today…

… Except, it’s the day before Halloween.

I just walked down the road and found Brighton, the UK’s top arts and culture city (besides London?), is holding Halloween parties, themes and do’s of some sort in every single venue, pub, and anything else. With a bit of active research, I could come up with at least three distinctive local-daily-news stories related to the exciting night ahead, pictures of Brighton’s streets and décor, interviews with venues, hosts, and chuck in a scary local resident. To be lazy, I could also wax lyrical on Breaking Bad via the inevitable proliferation of Breaking Bad themed Halloween parties.

The front page headline is not even a news piece about the weather; it’s the opinion piece about the weather.

An opinion writer – the last of a dying species of opinion writers actually still paid to fill the endangered territory of a local newspaper double spread – has used his space to write that the weather was not worth the writing. Nihilistic and self-defeating dribble about journalism itself that got his opinion onto the front page: “These feelings of unease were made worse by newspapers such as the Express, which delight in doom-laden weather predictions.”

So where is the breaking news, the daily news, the local news? Page 2 is a national story about the Royal Mail where the only connection seems to be the fact there’s a post office in Brighton; well done. Page 3 seems to be a game of how many fish-related puns – haddock-enough? – can fit into one plaice (sorry) in a story about a fish-and-chip owner who retired. A month ago.

Page 4-5 is ‘Your News’. I’m sure this is a much-cherished feature of The Argus but in practice it means the first actual up-to-date news the local newspaper reader comes across is written by residents, not journalists.

And then: The prominent feature about Kickstarter.

In which, three local projects are cited, fair enough; but these projects aren’t the mainstay of the article. Nothing, absolutely nothing, pertains to anything local until at least two thirds of the way into a double page feature in a local newspaper. The first two thirds give the impression that desperate, confused journalists just Googled their way through and cobbled together a quick collection of speculation and figures without any interested, specialist knowledge – or the inclination to interview anyone to obtain some. This is evident from their cited example of the games console Ouya as a ‘notable success’ on Kickstarter but this project has actually been a catastrophe in every sense of the word.

The Argus has a Twitter feed but they didn’t use it, despite Twitter being the prominent social media used to promote Kickstarter projects.But I can think a couple of Brighton projects off the top of my head I have passively seen via my Twitter feed, despite the fact my feed is based in London. (Reason: Brighton is an arts hub. Does The Argus know that?).

I just found three Brighton projects that are worth much more than a squashed mention at the end of the feature, via a 5 second Twitter search (clue: ‘Kickstarter’ + ‘Brighton’): Playing With Fear, Kollektiv’s First Ever Gallery, and CAT SKIN. These three have something unique about them which I could ascertain from just an interested glimpse.