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Thursday, 07 December 2017 23:27

Kent on Sunday: The Sad End of an Influential Award Winning Local Newspaper

Written by

Having been away on holiday for the past fortnight, I have previously been unable to comment on the sad closure of Kent on Sunday at the end of November as ‘it was no longer economically viable’.

Of particular interest to me and many browsers of this website was its focus on education as, often in conjunction with myself, it ran many educational stories in depth and conducted important campaigns.  

For KOS has surely been exceptional for a local free paper, in its willingness to provide such detail in its stories and campaigns, being prepared to devote up to three pages of news, analysis and political insight to an issue for the thoughtful reader, rather than go with the fleeting headline for those with a low attention span. Perhaps that has been its downfall but, on the way it has secured many prestigious newspaper awards, being the first free paper to win London and SE Regional Newspaper of the Year, UK Free Weekly Newspaper of the Year (six times) and, most recently in 2014, Regional Free Newspaper of the Year again.....

Although it was a free paper also available online, I have always considered Kent on Sunday as a high-quality product, having been a regular reader since its first edition in 2002. This has been local journalism at its best, presenting reliable local information, news and comment, along with excellent sports coverage, and a variety of life style features.

Many of you will be aware of KOS’s support for my own information and campaigning articles in education, and over the years we have achieved notable successes together. A call from the editor: ‘Yes, this is important, I can give you 1500 words’ would be heart-warming indeed, with KOS offering a unique media outlet of information and independent advice on school admissions for parents, to pick just one example.

Although some years ago now but certainly having the biggest impact, KOS fronted my successful personal campaign to halt the closure of all Kent’s Special Education Units, then being pushed through by County Officers. This was and is a critical area of education provision for vulnerable children, now being expanded by KCC to meet increasing demand! You will find one of many articles from the time here.

You will find my first ever article, written in 2004, here, about pressure on secondary school places (nothing new here), although KCC management was very poor at that time, as the article reveals. You will also find all my more recent articles here, amongst the ‘Newspaper Articles’ section of this site. 

I have particularly enjoyed Chris Britcher’s strong editorial section, punchy, thought provoking, and not afraid to make strong political connections to local matters, again rare I suspect in such a local newspaper. Whilst he has been made redundant, his three quality reporters, also working with the Gravesend Reporter and Kentish Times, were initially offered posts at the Barking Office of the Archant Group (not quite local!), owners of the publication, but have since all taken up posts with Kent Messenger Group who can clearly recognise their worth. 

Of course, my own specialisation is just a small aspect of the coverage of Kent on Sunday, with big local issues: Lorry Parks, Manston Airfield, the local impact of Brexit, Hospital Trust scandals, Rail Chaos, all receiving the KOS treatment, not forgetting the ‘small but important issues’ which would often be highlighted in more detail than one would expect. I could probably have given some more impressive examples, but in their enthusiasm to erase the memory of Kent on Sunday, Archant have removed all trace of the paper's existence from the internet, including the record of past numbers. 

I could go on, but I hope my point is made. The Archant Media Group took over KOS in 2010, and at present have 63 local titles across the country. If a newspaper with a record such as this cannot survive financially with many advertisers switching to the internet, the future certainly looks bleak for many others.

Kent on Sunday, you will be greatly missed! I have been proud to be associated with you.

Read 92 times Last modified on Friday, 08 December 2017 18:21

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