Tuesday, 14 April 2009


DIY newspaper hits the streets of Leeds

Free copies of the Yorkshire Evening Pest are being handed out to thousands of people across Leeds, in a format that mimics the city's Yorkshire Evening Post – albeit with articles on the collapse of the city centre, climate change, the role of public transport and the financial turmoil at Elland Road.

In fact, the parody is just a little too accurate for many in the city. "While some people were queuing up to take them out of our hands, others rushed past, thinking it was just another Evening Post," said Colleen Platts, one of the people behind the project.

The Yorkshire Evening Pest is the latest example of a new form of 'citizen journalism' which has emerged in the current financial crisis. Last week, thousands of spoof copies of the Financial Times were handed out in London ahead of the G20 summit. Its editor accused the media of complicity by failing to to ask the difficult questions in the lead-up to the fiscal meltdown. "It's the job of journalists to support facts and not opinions, but a lot of what's reported as facts are actually the opinions of powerful people," said Raoul Djukanovic.

With falling advertising revenue and the inexorable rise of other media, the UK's regional papers are facing problems of their own. Johnston Press, owners of the Yorkshire Evening Post, are embroiled in a bitter industrial dispute: 140 workers have been taking strike action since mid-February over its plan for compulsory redundancies at the paper and its sister title, the Yorkshire Post. As the Yorkshire Evening Pest explained, such cutbacks inevitably mean even less time to research stories, and greater pressure to regurgitate press releases.

But it's not all doom and gloom, as Colleen Platts explained. "Local papers still have a hugely important role to play. They have a street presence which means they can provide that city-wide 'water-cooler moment' in a way that online news portals can't. But they'll only do this if they ask the right questions – something they seem increasingly reluctant to do."


For further information, contact info@yorkshireeveningpest.co.uk

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