2020: A year which brought us closer together

2020 brought many challenges, but Janet Wilson, editor of the Wigan Observer, argues that there are lessons from the year which will make local journalism a better place in the future:

Looking back on 2020, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt which will be useful to you in 2021 and beyond?

Never under estimate the importance of the office.

Thinking about your newsroom or team, what will you remember most about 2020?

Their determination to make things work whatever the hurdles. And their kindness towards each other.

What do you think needs to happen in 2021 to make local journalism stronger?

We need to build on the gains and trust we have earned in local communities.

Janet Wilson, editor, Wigan Post

Thinking specifically about covering Coronavirus and lockdown in 2020 in your newsroom or team, what are you reflections and takeaways?

It’s all too easy to concentrate on the job and not the people doing it. Lockdown and the pandemic restructions have brought our newsroom closer together and we all know more about each other’s personal lives now. Behind every journalist is a life and a family with all the problems and distractions that brings. Strange when most of us haven’t seen each other for more than nine months

If you had to choose one or two of the most memorable Coronavirus/lockdown stories from your team (hard, we know!), what would they be?

A small story about a war hero who was going to be spending his 100th birthday alone in his care home during lockdown led to a global reaction. We asked for Wiganers to send him a card, the appeal went viral and he ended up receiving cards from across strangers the world. Simple acts of kindness can mean the most

If you had to choose one or two of the most memorable non-Coronavirus/lockdown stories from your team (hard again, we know!), what would they be?

The on-going tragedy that is Wigan Athletic. The town has watched in disbelief as the club was put into administration, docked 12 points, and the entire first team squad sold for a song. Six months on the sad situation seems to be no nearer a settlement despite the amazing fund-raising exploits of the fans, club officials and the town’s MP Lisa Nandy.

Has your newsroom or team run a campaign this year? If so, what was it about, and what has it achieved so far?

We launched a crowdfunder to ask for money to buy food and essenital items for local foodbanks. The pandemic meant people couldn’t donate tins goods and suppluies were running mout. The council isn’t allowed to appeal for money — so we took up their campaign.

We raised thousands of pounds and the money was put to excellent use to boost foodbank supplies for local vulnerable people. Residents seemed to appreciate being able to help those less fortunate. We have also supported local business during the JPImedia #shop local campaign — a scheme which has brought us a great deal of goodwill from struggling businesses.

Finally, and we know it’s cheesy, if you had one Christmas wish for local journalism, what would it be and why?

That people would appreciate us and stop being so nasty about us on facebook. We do some tremendous work but we are so often disparaged unfairly. We are only human and it hurts.

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Behind Local News

Behind Local News

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