You probably have ever run a village fête, complained about potholes in your road or grow to be a regional Scrabble champion, you will have met a journalist like Roger Lytollis. A author for the Carlisle Information & Star and its weekly sister, The Cumberland Information, he spent 25 years within the dying world of native newspapers, which have a beneficiant definition of what counts as “information”. His is a realm of headlines like “Gatepost painted” and “Espresso poured”, the place the opening of a brand new kitchen at a Carlisle neighborhood centre will get the type of protection usually reserved for royal weddings.
Maybe not surprisingly, he finds a lot of his tales tedious – as do a few of his readers, whose on-line suggestions consists of “utter drivel”. And he feels responsible about not transferring on to larger issues. Whereas a former colleague interviews Donald Trump, Lytollis’s profession highlights embody assembly The Man with the Pigeon Tattoos, a Cumbrian pigeon fancier whose favorite birds are inked on his arms.
But Lytollis has now achieved what few of his friends have ever executed: writing a e book about his experiences. Many former native paper hacks have dreamed of doing this, satisfied that the absurdities of small-town reporting beats would make a hilarious tome. Alas, the London-based publishing world – historically sniffy about hacks’ memoirs anyway – has seldom been eager, and so far, there exists no native newspaper reply to Evelyn Waugh’s 1938 novel, Scoop.
That Lytollis is now himself out of a job could account for his writer’s curiosity. In 2019, after 1 / 4 of a century serving Cumbrian readers, he was made redundant – yet one more casualty of the meltdown in native newspapers that has seen tons of shut prior to now decade. Sadly, plainly the one story price telling in native newspaper journalism is that of its demise, given its implications for holding native energy brokers to account. In spite of everything, as final 12 months’s shenanigans at Handforth Parish Council proved, tinpot tyrants thrive when no one is there to report on them.
Lytollis’s e book, Panic as Man Burns Crumpets: The Vanishing World of the Native Journalist, is a love letter to the commerce, although written with a contact of poison pen. Among the tales he covers, comparable to interviewing Stevie Las Vegas, Cumbria’s main Elvis tribute act, are enjoyable, whereas others – comparable to a curtain-raiser on a brand new Primark retailer – are “a bit crap”. A characteristic author slightly than a reporter, his job was technically on the “glamorous” finish: whereas colleagues are caught on the magistrates’ courtroom or in council conferences, he’s the man-about-town doing varied stunts, be it becoming a member of the native nude swimming membership, going out with the hearth brigade, or being pulverised whereas making an attempt his hand at conventional Cumberland wrestling. “I used to be Cumbria’s reply to John Noakes,” he says.
This will not be Pulitzer stuff, however it takes ability. Writing a few native Crematorium Open Day, for instance, hones a journalistic expertise for getting one thing out of nothing. Particularly if the editor desires it “upbeat”. And on native papers, details are nonetheless sacred. Get one thing improper, and other people received’t simply troll you on-line, they could flip up in your workplace demanding retribution.