The Leicester Mercury is one of the largest local newspapers in the UK with an estimated daily readership of almost 200,000. It features a mix of local and national news plus items of local interest which, last Friday, included an article by me. It was my blog posting called Strictly Limited Experience but seeing it published on the pages of the Leicester Mercury made me feel uncomfortable and I’m not sure why. It’s not as if this was my first published article. That happened way back in the 1990s when The Lady published an article about my involvement in a local bird count. I admit I was ecstatic at the time but I’ve had many articles published since then so why did this feel different?
It could be because the piece was never intended to be a newspaper article. I know that this blog can be read by anyone in the word but it’s my blog and I can choose to talk about whatever I wish. When I received a copy of the paper I scrutinised the article for any social gaffe or misdemeanour that I may have committed. I’ve yet to find out if the mother of the boy who wanted to see a close up of the goal during his first trip to live football has recognised herself. It may be that she doesn’t mind being written about. Mum expressed surprise at being discussed in her local paper even though she had no objections to being mentioned in my blog. Maybe we’ve lulled ourselves into a false sense of security. I mean, I’m only talking to myself here and you lot don’t really exist... do you?
Hang on! You must exist because I can hear you all asking, ‘If it was never intended to be a newspaper article how come it was in last Friday’s edition?’ Good question and the answer is Twitter. I was tweeting away late Sunday night with several of my local Twittermates. They were agreeing with me about the issues of accessibility at that particular venue when the editor of the Leicester Mercury tweeted me an offer to publish it as a First Person article. Of course, I agreed but this was gone 11 pm and it was all rather surreal. I felt more reassured when he emailed me during working hours to confirm but, and here’s a note to all those friends who think I waste my time on Twitter, I certainly have Twitter to thank for it being published.
So, has the article reached a wider audience? The Editor promised that it would and I’m not disputing it but I have no proof. The good thing about a blog is that people who read and appreciate my words will spend a few moments adding a comment at the bottom. Non-bloggers can’t ever understand how much that means to a blogger. I wondered if the article would increase my local blog following but so far it hasn’t. Mind you, at Mum’s day centre a well-thumbed copy was being passed from table to table and it was suggested that, as it really did read quite well, I might think of becoming a writer. I smiled politely. They probably think that all writers walk around with a quill in their hand and a whimsical look in their eye... but that’s another blog story.