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A new era for the Norwich Evening News: How we are at the heart of the community

PUBLISHED: 15:56 23 February 2011 | UPDATED: 15:56 23 February 2011

EEN.2010-05-14.MAIN.001.001.COL.v2 copy

EEN.2010-05-14.MAIN.001.001.COL.v2 copy

When it was launched in 1882, the proprietors of the fledging Eastern Evening News said it would "give the working classes of Norwich, Yarmouth, Lowestoft and other towns in the district the opportunity of having the latest news on their tea table at half the price at which upper and middle classes can have theirs on the breakfast table".

By the 1940s, the newspaper was aimed much more squarely at Norwich and the surrounding area – a daily paper for busy city people.

At that time most people picked up their Eastern Evening News from a street vendor on their way home from work, reading the news on a crowded bus.

Those days may have, for the most part, long gone, with the way people get their news having been transformed by the internet and television.

But what has not altered is the commitment from the Evening News to bring people in Norwich news about the city, about the people who live and work here and the events which leave an indelible mark on our local history.

The Evening News is at the heart of Norwich life and our team of journalists is dedicated to finding out what is going on and sharing that information.

The website www.eveningnews24.co.uk reports news and information in real time, as it happens. But the newspaper is where our journalists provided more articles and more analysis.

The Evening News is also the first port of call for that essential community news which, including Derek James’s trips down memory lane and for regular columnists such as Stacia Briggs and Ian Gibson.

There have been some remarkable stories in the Evening News in 2011 already, such as the explosion which ripped through Rackheath last month and the raiders with baseball bats who tied up a barman at The Compleat Angler pub in Prince of Wales Road.

We were first to reveal thousands of council tenants in Norwich are likely to see an average increase of between £16 and £22 on their rents and that the city council is freezing its portion of the council tax.

Our reporters have not only brought you the news of the council cuts, but analysed what council cuts will mean for families across the city. That’s where our local knowledge comes to the fore and that’s what the Evening News intends to do more of in the future, not just telling you the news, but getting to grips with the repercussions it will have for everyone locally.

We also want to carry on investigating issues of concern. Last year the collapse of the Connaught contract led to about 300 Norwich people losing their jobs. Our journalist were on hand to ask probing questions of the city council over why it signed the deal.

So far this year we have investigated the huge number of potholes which dot the city’s roads and revealed how councils are only using short-term measures to fix them, while we also investigating the big rises in fuel prices at petrol station forecourts.

But we are also there to chronicle the happier moments in the life of our fine city, such as the party atmosphere at the promotion parade when Norwich City Football Club secured a return to the Championship.

And your local newspaper was on hand for the emotional service which marked the official rededication of Norwich’s war memorial – after our journalists had tracked the saga all the way from when the memorial gardens closed way back in 2004 through the many delays and snags which hampered its revamp.

Your Evening News is proud of its reputation as a campaigning newspaper and we plan to keep up that tradition. In the past decade we have fought to keep libraries open (Hands Off Our Libraries), helped raise awareness of the deadly effects of asbestos (Asbestos Action), battled to stop mobile phone masts from being built near schools and homes (Put Masts On Hold), called for action on anti-social behaviour (Reclaim Our Communities) and spearheaded attempts to keep Norwich Puppet Theatre and the Mustard Shop open.

Our No To Norfolk Incinerators campaign to stop a plant from being built in Costessey paid off, with the pressure making it impossible for the county council to obtain the land it needed for the unpopular project – which led to a nomination in the World Wildlife Fund’s British Environment and Media Awards.

Through our Opening The Door appeal, incredibly generous readers raised vital funds for the Big C, so the cancer charity could build a much-needed family cancer information and support centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

And our campaign to prevent Norwich post offices from closing highlighted flaws in the government’s rationale for closing them – which led to a number being saved.

In 2009, the Evening News revealed how Norfolk County Council wanted to close two day centres for older people – the Silver Rooms and the Essex Rooms.

While the Save Our Day Centres campaign did not succeed in keeping the centres open, it did help the community make the point that they needed alternative services and wanted to be kept together when they do move.

One of our most popular campaigns has been Love Your Local, which was launched two years ago, because of concern over the increasing number of our pubs which were closing. The campaign has highlighted how important pubs are to Norwich people and that once gone, they rarely reopen. It really is a case of use them or lose them and we have been urging people to pop into their local pubs to stop them disappearing.

And our End The Indignity articles about patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital who were being treated in what were effectively stock cupboards, led to a rapid rethink of policy by health officials.

Our most recent campaign is the Don’t Suffer In Silence series of articles, which urges people to report cases of domestic violence, and which was praised by people who had been victims of abuse.

Away from the campaigning for our city, one of the sections of the Evening News which we know is extremely popular is the Local Life section, which appears in the newspaper every Tuesday.

It’s full of articles and pictures from the heart of the community. Whether it’s children in schools putting on plays, generous fundraisers collecting cash for charity, communities joining forces to clean up their neighbourhood or youngsters celebrating achievements, it’s news about your friends and neighbours.

We have a valuable network of dedicated local correspondents who tell us what’s going on in their neck of the woods. Reporter Donna Louise-Bishop, who compiles the Local Life section said: “Local Life embraces the stories which make our communities a unique and special place and focuses on articles where people have achieved something personal to them or where a group has succeeded in achieving its goals.

“It captures what is at the heart of where we live and what makes Norwich an interesting and exciting place.”

From next week, the Evening News will be available in the mornings – partly to help save money in the recession and partly to try to reach even more readers by making the paper available for longer, hopefully prompting more sales of Norwich’s best-selling newspaper.

From Monday, all of the newspaper will go to press at about midnight with the Evening News available in shops first thing in the morning.

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