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Editor’s Blog: On turning 60 and the future of news in Harlow

General / Wed 24th Nov 2021 at 10:27am

By Michael Casey

I WON’T take long with this because I prefer to look forward rather than hark back.

And the clue is in the title of this digital newspaper. It is YourHarlow not my Harlow.

But as I turn sixty on November 24th, I just want to concentrate on the future of my trade in this town.

We began the century with three newspapers in this town. The Harlow Citizen, whose first edition came out in March 1953, went in 2007. The Harlow Herald closed its doors in 2010 and then the Harlow Star went in January 2019.

That leaves us.

Us is basically one journalist in a little office in a little house in the corner of Harlow.

Us is also one journalist with a loving and devoted wife who simply does everything else.

Us is also as it says on our Twitter Bio: one journalist in partnership with 85,000 people.

I am basically curating, putting in one place, all the news that organisations and individuals send me.

I also just turn up to stuff. Half the job is “just turning up to stuff” Especially when YourHarlow is the only Harlow-based news organisation left.

When we were featured n the BBC One Show in May 2019, my statement on local news was true then and is true now.

“Unless you attend the community events, the council meetings, the court cases, the plays and shows, th esports events, then you can call yourself a local newspaper all you like but you are not, you are a karaoke version of a local paper.

This is hard work. Working seven days a week but as I say, it is not working down a mine or fixing a roof. It is journalism. Or a say good friends say “word-butchery”.

That is why, I am here.

Yes, a town with one journalist for 85,000 isn’t a great ratio but I feel we have such a strong relationship with the town that we can only go from strength to strength.

Would I like to have a printed version. In some ways, yes. To thousands of Harlow residents that paper going through the door was a great companion. Even if they did go straight to the Births, Marriages and Deaths page!

I guess our 90-year-old neighbour Olive has got it right. She just potters down, knocks on our door and asks: “Now Michael, the ladies I meet for coffee want to know….”

Some say printed news has gone the same way as Kodak Cameras and Blockbuster video stores. I say, more like vinyl records. More a niche market, that is to say, there may be a case for 10,000 copy run in Harlow but probably not 30,000 plus.

In the meantime, we just try an improve the digital look at what we do and concentrate on our core business.

We published 4,408 stories last year. In 2021, we have, to date, published 3,904. That is our core business and we will continue to do that.

Less than 10% is crime, we do our best to spread the good news.

In many ways, there story of the Bush Fair postmaster winning an award illustrated all that is good about the people of Harlow. There were countless comments and words of congratulations for a wonderful man.

I was blessed with good genes. Those are Irish genes of Kevin and Kathleen O’Halloran and all the antecedents, Every one of them was and is a grafter. I did a little bit of family tree research and wherever my relatives are in the world (from Ireland to the UK and USA) everyone is a hard worker.

Thank you to al those who have helped us publish over 24,000 stories in eight years.

I really love running YourHarlow. I was born in this town, sixty years ago today and I do hope to bring you the news for many more years to come.

Michael Casey

November 24th, 2021.

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5 Comments for Editor’s Blog: On turning 60 and the future of news in Harlow:

Andy Bray
2021-11-24 11:25:32

Well done Michael, what you do is very much appreciated.

Bobby Bobbler
2021-11-24 11:40:44

Echoing Andy's comment, the work is appreciated. It's relevant, unbiased (mostly ;-) ) and concise, keep up the good work.

Karen
2021-11-24 22:17:05

Doing a great job 👏

Janet Banks
2021-11-25 08:04:54

Well done! Happy Birthday

Patricia Fitzgibbon
2021-11-25 22:44:26

Well done, through the years you have educated us, made us aware, we have laughed and cried, at different formats news and columns. But you have moved with the times, not easy for everyone, but still keeping the community informed. Congratulations on your 60th enjoy your very special day 🍰🎁🍾🎇📰. Your paper,was very kind to myself and my daughter, when my son passed away from Sudep, your article made people more aware of epilepsy deaths. That my family thanks you for.

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