Hull (No Longer) In Print

If I cheat and include a year in Cottingham, I’ve lived in Hull for almost 12 years now. In those years I’ve found equal measures of amusement and information in the council produced free magazine ‘Hull In Print’. As with any parochial publication, it had more than its fair share of cheesy articles on local doings, illustrated with photos of grinning dishevelled schoolchildren, Mums and tots at coffee mornings or old men holding amusingly shaped vegetables on their allotments. But it also provided useful information – theatre listings, art exhibitions, contact details for local councillors, legal advice, refuse collection dates and, in general, lots of local events that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. Not to mention the competitions (compers tip – local comps have a lower entry rates and so you have a greater chance of winning) which have, over the years, netted me 2 x £25, a Hull City Monopoly board game and a calendar (yeah, *now* you’re jealous!).

So I was disappointed for all the above reasons to find out that the magazine will no longer be arriving through my door. The decision to halt physical publication came suspiciously close to Eric Pickles’ announcement to overhaul publicity rules for councils, but the official reason is ‘cutbacks’ and so the magazine finds itself going solely online.

I’m well aware of the distinct whiff of propaganda around these types of magazines so attempts to soft-soap me with fluffy stories and spin are wasted. I probably read Hull Daily Mail as often as I read Hull In Print (once a month) so neither was losing me as a reader as the result of the other and, if I’m honest, I view the bias displayed in both publications with equal disdain.

Obviously I’m all for saving money (and trees) and it does seem wasteful when the information is simultaneously available on the web. But of course, I’m commenting as someone with ready access to, and understanding of, the Internet, not everyone is so lucky. It’s a matter of accessibility. I doubt my elderly Great Aunt (or is she a cousin? I’m never really sure) who lives in Anlaby and doesn’t have a computer or the ability to trot off to the library (*if* she will even have a local library much longer) will feel the same. That’s yet another window on the world, another link with the community that will be lost to such people. And even for those of us who can get to a PC, will we even remember to check the ‘Hull (No Longer) In Print’ website every month? Sure, it will be my first port of call when I want to find an answer to a specific question (like, “When the hell are you going to collect my bin?!” around Christmas and bank holidays) but how many important, cultural, fun or just plain interesting events are going to pass me right by? I’ve managed to find a City Arts Newsletter and there is always the Twitter account but even combined they aren’t as comprehensive as the magazine. Of course, there exist other independent local magazines (such as Tenfoot City) but they’re not always easy to (remember to) find.

While hardly representing the zenith of journalistic practise and accuracy (the last issue had a rather glaring spelling mistake – Sydney Smith School was missing a ‘y’ in the wordsearch), Hull In Print served a purpose for me, maybe not the purpose Hull City Council insidiously intended, but a purpose all the same.

If anyone can point me in the direction of any other local magazines covering the relevant issues I’d be very grateful. Oh, and if they run any competitions, that’d be grand too.

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