The Ashbourne News Telegraph published its 5000th edition this week. The title began in 1891 during the reign of Queen Victoria and has served the town of Ashbourne since then. I would like to congratulate the team for supporting the town.
It’s easy to take it for granted. It is unusual in this day and age for a town the size of Ashbourne to have it’s own title with an office in the town centre. Many similar publications have gone by the wayside over the years and we really are fortunate to not have to settle for the Derbyshire Observer, the Derbyshire Dales Telegraph or the Peak District Post – so many amalgamations have happened elsewhere.
It has survived by providing good coverage of local news items to an audience who still care about what it going on around them. In a world of social media, the trend is towards ‘hyperlocal’ information. The world and it’s markets have become global and the news providers have chased that requirement at the expense of telling local people about what is happening on their doorsteps. There has never been a better time for the Ashbourne News Telegraph than now – there are around 6,200 copies sold each week but the readership is around 17,600. In a town of our size the newspaper matters – its editorials have impact and you know that the movers and shakers in the town pay attention. Whenever there is an event the chances are that the paper will have representation – not just as reporters but as residents too.
The Stunner does have it’s moments. It does report the charmingly parochial story from time to time which people outside Ashbourne may think is small beer. It also has letters pages which can be extreme, bizarre and poignant. It gets behind the campaigns which matter, providing excellent support to local politicians, businesses and sports clubs but it isn’t afraid to take a side and challenge the status quo. There have been some uncomfortable stories affecting people and businesses locally and it would have been easy to turn a blind eye but the journalists reported them unflinchingly. As well as influencing opinion the newspaper creates a focus for dissent and concern which helps to keep the town on the right track. In recent times it has echoed the town opinion well on the market, the housing, and the planning decisions. At a time when the Olympics are inspiring a generation the Stunner has for years supported local athletes and success stories – making them feel appreciated and wanted. When the big events occur – Shrovetide, the Jubilee, the Highland Gathering and Elections we all turn to see the photographs and the coverage from our local team.
In the digital age, the news from Ashbourne travels far. A view of the letters pages just shows how many people keep an eye on what is happening in our part of the world. A Google search for Ashbourne invariably turns it up on the front page of results and so it also acts as an ambassador to the world for us. As a town that relies on tourism for our economy we shouldn’t overlook it.
As a reader, one of the things I appreciate about the ANT is that every edition tells stories about people I know and people I’ve met. This couldn’t happen in a bigger town or with a different newspaper. We are the news and the Ashbourne News Telegraph records our stories for people to read about in years to come.
Here’s to another 5000 editions!