Sunday, 21 November 2010

Hackney Gazette and ELA leave East End (after 144 years)

The Hackney Gazette and the East London Advertiser are moving offices from Bethnal Green to Ilford. The two papers currently share an office in Bethnal Green (Cambridge Heath Road) not far from Hackney but will be moving on November 26.

The Gazette has been based outside Hackney for quite a while but the ELA has been in Tower Hamlets for 144 years covering Jack The Ripper (who turned up in 1888 20 years after the paper was established) and surviving the Blitz.

Sad to see it move - especially when its owners seem to be making money (as pointed out in this Guardian Article). May be the council papers: the weekly East End Life and the fortnightly Hackney Today were also responsible. Whatever the reason it'll be harder for journalists to do their jobs properly now. (But for Tower Hamlets politics try Trial by Jeory)

I worked at the ELA for four years starting a few weeks before 9/11 (2001) and leaving a few weeks after the 7/7 (2005) bombings. Not long after I arrived the then editor Richard Tidiman (now dead) opened an envelope containing a white powder and a note claiming it was anthrax. When the police eventually turned up - there were a lot of anthrax scares at the time - they said it was probably talcum powder (no tests just said we should wait until we got ill before worrying).

But we were all pretty obsessed with terror. I took the picture below because of the stupendous terror events these billboards claimed to be reporting - I don't remember any of them.

The picture was taken in June 2005 (The date can be seen above Ricin 'Terrer') when East London was buzzing with terror threats.

Some more pictures from the good old days...

Down at Tower Hamlets Town Hall in 2005 when councillors walked out ...

George Galloway after his election.

Oona King before she lost the election....

Oldreporter said: "A pal of mine, a good sub, was made redundant a while ago and did some shifts at one of these "subbing factories." (Like the new Ilford office) After a few days he began to realise that good stories were being down-played because of the formatted pages and crap stories were getting shows. He raised the matter with his chief-sub or equivalent and was told: "Don't worry about it. We're not here to do anything other than get the pages away." A little later he was given another story sub which had the makings of a splash for the title he was working on that day. He approached his boss again and told him with a couple more inquiries made by the reporter in the area and a little tweak the story was much better than the one he had subbed as the splash. Again he was told: "Forget it." That's what people who care are up against. If the bosses don't give a toss neither do their minions. And weeklies will continue to go down the pan.

Another comment came from 'Localreporter': I work on one of the above papers, about to be moved to Ilford - miles off patch.Since the centralised CMS system was introduced not long ago, which is obviously enabling this move, it has been evident that quality has declined. We are often being told to "write to fit" the space provided, so stories with worth are being squeezed into nib size, and rubbish that would normally be used as space fillers is being given more room than it deserves. All so that pages can be "sent off" to production, and all part and parcel of this centralised subbing system. Working in Ilford, several miles and over an hour's journey off patch, is going to be yet another recipe for disaster. All very demoralising..."

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