The North West Enquirer Launches

Newspapers The North West Enquirer launched today into an already busy local newspaper market. It will be a tricky experiment to pull off ? this is a weekly paper covering an area larger than a local town but smaller than a national. They admit as much in an opening editorial, although their argument is that they'll be covering the stories that reach the middle ground ? for example in this edition there is story which looks the impending supercasino which could be opening in either Blackpool or Manchester.

Visually it compares to the Liverpool Daily Post, with large headlines and lots of white paper, although the photography is in full colour, like The Guardian and to a degree even more impressive.

The writing style reminds me of a student newspaper, which isn't a criticism. It's young. Readable. And vibrant. And uses very short, punchy, sentences. In short paragraphs.

The paper's real strength is that seems feature and personality led. There is an unusual interview with a man who's leaving the police force to become a ?trolly-dolly? and a profile of a scientist at Liverpool's School of Tropical Medicine. This feels like a paper about people rather than situations, although it's never less than factual and knowledgable about the subject it's tackling.

There is some wierdness. Oddly in the centre, there are two pages of syndicated World News material from the Internationl Herald Tribune which are supposed to have a local angle but seem a bit random. Also, and what would have been of the most interest to me, the arts coverage, is wedged in the middle when I would drop it much closer to the front of the paper. There's also a missed opportunity in not including some kind of web or technology content, covering local online issues. But I would say that wouldn't I?

Also the paper has consciously decided not to include a listings section, because they say, 'there's not much point in our repeating info readily obtained elsewhere'. Such a shame, because I was looking forward to a one-stop-shop for the whole of the northwest for people who can be mobile and are missing out on that really funky Shakespeare production in a small town because they aren't aware of it because the local paper doesn't reach that far and it's too local for The Guardian Guide to publish.

But I'll still pick The Enquirer up at least for the first few weeks to watch it bed in and see how it changes based on the opinions of its readers. There are some excellent idiosyncrasies such as The Big Picture at the centre which this week compares a photograph taken from Liverpool World Museum steps by Edward Chambre Hardman in 1946 with a similar shot from today. Also, there's an exhaustive local sports results page covering things like Squash championships that I?ve not seen elsewhere.

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