Author Archives: Vivienne Johnson

Local democracy is being starved

Reading skyline
The Reading Post, the 159 year old Harrow Observer as well as the Wokingham and Bracknell Times, Surrey Herald, Surrey Times and Woking Informer and Get Reading are all gone. Last week, Local World closed the Burton Advertiser free-sheet and the paid-for Uttoxeter Post and Times will close next month. As a local journalist I count myself lucky to be working for a publication that has not just made all its staff redundant.
Of course I am concerned about the closures and job cuts but I am more concerned about what is being left behind when these local titles are shut down.
More and more we are seeing press releases and clickbait being touted as journalism. Qualified journalists are losing their jobs rapidly so who will be left to ask “is it true?” and hold councils, public bodies and businesses to account?

Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary said on the day that the last Reading Post was published:”It is a really sad day. The closure of this award-winning and popular newspaper makes absolutely no sense to the readers or the dedicated journalists and staff who have been serving their local community with news, features, gossip, information and the trials and triumphs of the town’s football club for many years. Trinity Mirror’s blinkered new plans to make Berkshire a ‘digital-only zone’ is not what the readers want. It is also a callous way to treat journalists who have been doing a good job.
“This means courts are not being covering, council meetings are not being reported and other public bodies, schools and businesses are not being held to account. Each town in the UK needs a choice of newspapers and websites, plus good, local investigative journalism.”
The NUJ are calling for a national inquiry into the future of local papers and I am adding my voice to this request.
Local democracy is important; we deserve a discussion on the implications of these closures. There is an  Early day motion 585: CLOSURE OF LOCAL NEWSPAPERS please raise this issue with your local MP and ask them to sign and support and attend the discussion in Parliament.


I’ve seen the light

I had an interesting day yesterday. I had the privilege of having one to one tuition with a professional photojournalist and all of a sudden things that had been confusing and complicated to me started to make sense. That little bit of personal help was what I needed. It’s OK to read manuals and books,Continue Reading

Mayor backs plans for Reading to become a sanctuary

A grassroots movement that aims to build bridges, dispel myths about asylum seekers has received backing from one of the highest possible places in Reading – from the Mayor. In 2005 the first City of Sanctuary group was founded in Sheffield. There are now 40 towns and cities with connections to the City of SanctuaryContinue Reading

Better a bag than a box

Jackie Dudley found out she had stomach cancer and had to have a serious operation to remove the diseased tissue. This resulted in her having to have a colostomy bag. Jackie speaks out about her experience and the self help group she founded for others in her position. Click on the link below to takeContinue Reading

Get on with it

  More years ago than I care to remember, straight from university I got my first job, straight from university. I worked with some remarkable people in a blue chip company and learned a lot about business, management and quality. At the time one of my colleagues was studying for an MBA and one ofContinue Reading

All is found out, flee now

  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a bit of a prankster and it is said (although some say this is an urban legend) that he once sent a telegram to 12 of his friends saying “”All is discovered. Flee at once.” and all 12 fled the country. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a nice story.Continue Reading

Gardeners enjoy the fruit of their labour

This is what can happen when a few people get together with a goal in mind. This is a story about a group of people who turned a piece of waste land into a community allotment. Now in its second year the group found help in the form of money and people. They cleared theContinue Reading

What’s the definition of democracy? Three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

What’s the definition of democracy? Three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

There’s been a flurry of political activity for the past couple of weeks in the UK. There were European and local elections last Thursday. Local election results are out, European election results are counted on Sunday. In the ward where I live there was a local election and a by-election as one of the standingContinue Reading

Peacekeeping Supergran

Lindsey is 61 years old, is a retired English teacher and lives in the UK. She wants to do more with her new found time than walk the dog and play with her grandson. In April 2014 Lindsey is going to the West Bank where she will stand at checkpoints within the West Bank and at gatesContinue Reading

Empowering women with a smile

A close shave for Chao What do you do when you find out your sister has been diagnosed with cancer but you can’t be with her because she lives across the world? Chao Sitei found herself in that position and came up with a very unusual solution. “At Christmas my sister was diagnosed with cancer,”Continue Reading