Monday, 19 April 2010

Hackney Citizen: Boff-tastic or intelligence wing of the Green Party?

Keith Magnum, founder of the Hackney Citizen, confesses that the paper's website looks a bit "Boff-tastic" at the moment. It's full of the various gripes of the Conservative Mayoral candidate, Andrew Boff.

This is odd considering Magnum stood as a Green Party candidate in Clissold in the last election (2006). What's doubly odd is that there is no Mischa Borris, the Green Party Mayoral candidate, in the paper's who's who for the Hackney Mayoral race.

I hoped this could mean one of two things. Either the Boff interest was a double bluff and Magnum was master-minding - in his own words - "the intelligence wing of the Green Party" or hated his former colleagues at the Green Party so much he'd turned to the Conservatives.

But Magnum said neither interpretation was correct: "I left the Green Party. I left because I didn't think being a member of a local party would be compatible with what I'm doing now. I'm still friendly with them but I'm not involved in it."

Apparently the lack of Green stories is because the Green launch has come a bit later than the others. "We're not avoiding them... I've known them for ages and I still speak to them. But it's not like this is the intelligence wing of the Green Party, they don't know anything before it gets published."

So, what's with all the Boff coverage - as opposed to the lack of Borris coverage ? "We've done stuff with Andrew Boff just because it's interesting." He said Boff had approached them with his story about the council refusing to print his election address.

Magnum - who has no background in journalism (I failed to ask him what his professional background was) - said "Hackney Council rejects mayoral candidates election address" was a "brilliant story" but hard to substantiate, which was probably a pop at the Hackney Press office which took its time confirming Boff's story.

Magnum says: "When I look at our homepage, it does look a bit Boff-tastic, but he's just given us the best stories." As an antidote he says Boff might have slightly brought the problem on himself by not attending relevant meetings and leaving it all to the last minute.

In contrast Magnum says the Greens have provided press releases about more money for pensioners which, while worthy, are unlikely to prompt the kind of reactions that Boff's problems have - lots of comments can be found at the end of the story.


Otherwise, has the Hackney Citizen overtaken the Hackney Gazette as the borough's main newspaper? While Magnum can point to a print run of 20,000 free newspapers, a statistician might balk at comparing this to the Gazette's weekly 8,000 sold newspapers. But according to Magnum his 20,000 probably means a readership of around 60,000.

Compared to the Gazette's full time editorial staff of 7 - four reporters, news editor, deputy editor, editor (that doesn't include sport, advertising or circulation) the Hackney Citizen doesn't have any paid staff. According to Magnum, the advertising revenue goes back into the circulation.

Meanwhile Magnum says he's watching for any web activity from Archant which owns the Gazette. He says the privately owned newspaper group has upgraded some of its local news sites.

1 comment:

  1. Cor, wish we *did* have an intelligence wing. Sounds grand! :)