Deck the halls with PR waffle

Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you to stop what you’re doing and listen.

‘Party fever hits the South West! A quarter Plymouth residents say this is their busiest time for partying.’

‘Battle of the sexes! Half of women in Plymouth do not trust their partner to execute essential Christmas tasks.’

Yes, it’s that most wonderful time of year when regional journalists across the land see their inboxes fill up with endless festive fluff and yuletide guff. The faceless online commenters who daily provide constructive feedback below the line often accuse us of printing things which are “not news”. At this time of year, I reckon they might have a point.

Thanks to the rise of social media, it has become fashionable in recent years for reporters to vent their dislike of perky PR pap. This is never more apparent than during the month of December, when the marketing bods go into mulled wine-fuelled overdrive.

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It’s a vicious cycle. They know newsrooms are struggling for copy as our usual sources – courts, councils, busybody locals with nothing better to do – prepare to shut down for the holiday. We operate on a skeleton staff but there are still pages to be filled, particularly the dreaded ‘briefs’ columns which devour copy like a hungry monster. For much more on this, see Nick Davies’ brilliantly disturbing Flat Earth News.

In an attempt to stop the whole paper being filled with nonsense surveys and pictures of dogs wearing hats, we have been on a mission to write some interesting and entertaining features.

This week, Marc Prosser has been looking into what Christmas in Plymouth means to visitors from abroad, giving a unique perspective on the western festive traditions we take for granted. Over the next couple of weeks there are plenty more in-depth pieces to come; enough to keep your boredom at bay before the New Year kicks in.

Things are winding down, but news does not entirely stop when Santa comes to down. Despite what The Holiday might have you believe, it’s not a case of nonchalantly pressing “send” on the final story on Christmas Eve and swanning off for drinkies. The darker side of Christmas – domestic abuse, drink-fuelled violence, traffic chaos, homelessness – is all still out there. And our reporters will still be here, while you’re finishing off the last of the turkey sandwiches, to bring you the latest news.

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