Is This Why Local Newspapers Are Dying Mr Francis?


Local newspapers are dying. The numbers of papers being sold is in decline as more people turn to online media. However, even here, the journalism is all too often replaced with churnalsim and click bait journalism and our local newspapers are not immune.

We do still buy our local newspapers, albeit in dwindling numbers. However, the Folkestone Herald and the Folkestone & Hythe Express all too often miss a deeper story within a story they have told. An example of this is the White Lion pub story, where the Herald failed to mention or even do an in depth check on the ownership and got quite a few of the facts wrong.

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On the 23rd April our public face who stood in the KCC elections – and was NOT elected – ran a story about 5,000 empty homes in Kent sitting empty and waiting to be loved by new occupants. Yet seven months later an award winning Journalist, Paul Francis (pictured), Political Editor of the Kent Messenger Group ran an identical story about 5,000 homes being empty. Then if that wasn’t enough just two days ago he ran a story with the headline “Education chiefs warn Kent can expect influx of London families as councils buy MoD land

Here in Shepway we are blessed. We are blessed because even though our opposition can land little on our Conservative led administration they have raised issues long before Mr Francis is out of bed and awake to the issue.

UKIP Councillor

Cllr Mary Lawes (pictured) raised the very issue Mr Francis raised in his latest article on the 27th Nov. Cllr Lawes highlighted this back in April of this year, but both local papers overlooked and/or ignored it.

Cllr Lawes spoke about London Councils placing people in local accommodation  in increasing numbers. She mentioned how Redbridge Council had outbid Canterbury City Council for 208 homes in Canterbury in our Council chamber. She mentioned how these were putting a strain on our local services in Kent, such as Health, Education and local housing.

Cllr Lawes said in April:

This has been an on going issue in my area and others, but has recently become increasingly worse.”

Cllr Ewart James, Cabinet Member for Housing at SDC was oblivious to these events occurring, as it seems was Paul Francis, Political Editor of the Kent Messenger Group.

Now another thing about Paul is that in August he ran the headline:

Kent MPs accepted Glastonbury and Test tickets, latest Register of Interests reveals

which to give credit to Damian Collins, he openly declared back in April 2017. So why was this news in Aug 2017? What Paul Francis forgot to mention in his article was the £17,600 of donations Damian had received, so just two days later we ran the story with the headline:

Damian Collins MP £17,600 Worth of Donations & that Glastonbury Ticket.

It not just once or even twice, but three times this year so far that Mr Francis has either created an old news story, as it fits his and the Kent Messenger Group’s agenda, or he has completely left out over three quarters of the facts in his story.


Is it any wonder then why local newspapers are dying. Why their use of click bait and churnalism is on the increase, when readers come second to advertising. Local people want local stories, ones which are challenging, in depth; and tell us something new. We believe Journalists on the Herald and the Folkestone & Hythe Express can provide this, as could Mr Francis an award winning journalist.

Mr Francis taught some of us, and our public face at the Centre for Investigative Journalism back in July 2015, when he and Ted Jeory ran a course on finding scoops in Local Councils and how to look at Council Accounts.

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We still use Paul’s handout to this day.

Local newspapers need to offer quality journalism, not journalism which has all too often been reported on previously by so many others. They need to move away from the churnalism and click bait and get back to what they have always done best, that being, Reporting In Depth, Accurate and quality news. We hope that Mr Francis and his ilk will remember this.

The Shepwayvox Team

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5 Comments on Is This Why Local Newspapers Are Dying Mr Francis?

  1. I find that I don’t bother trying to read the online newspapers anymore,it’s very off putting when all the adverts come up and makes the news story’s very disjointed.
    Also the online newspapers take an age to load because of this so I just turn them off.

  2. I agree.. The local newspapers are dying if not actually dead to readers who want articles that exercise the brain such as Tillson’s Anomalies, Mr and Mrs Monk’s amnesia, Jeremy Chambers, Otterpool Park and Stainer’s downward spiral to name just a few stories..

    And if it wasn’t for Shepwayvox’s superb investigative journalism skills then the public would be totally unaware about what the Shepway District Clowns are up to.

    Carry on the good work SV !!

  3. Once upon a time, local newspapers were a vital part of their communities — fearless, challenging, provocative, annoying —- but always essential reading. Now? Thank heavens for Shepwayvox!!

  4. I buy Folkestone & Hythe Express every week and can guarantee most of the stories are up to date. See this week for a start. What I wasn’t impressed with was the comment from the Police. They were just trotting out their usual spin. Some articles that appear in the printed paper do not appear on line. I have no problems reading on line as I have Ad Blocker. Local people don’t buy the paper as they can’t be bothered in the same way they can’t be bothered to vote in local elections. I would also say that the local news on line is so out of date, not much point in reading it. I also buy the local paper to see the latest planning applications and their reference numbers. Of course I do get to hear a lot of news as I belong to Our Neighbourhood Watch and receive Police messages.This is usually long before it appears anywhere else.

  5. I now rely on SV for real local interest stories. Well done.

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