One of the first things that Stratfordians do when they have bought the Stratford upon Avon Herald is to turn to the obituaries. Being such a close knit community means that the odds are that someone you know or knew, has passed. Like checking the racing results, it’s just something residents of Stratford upon Avon do. It’s the highlight of the week. Now sadly, here we are finding ourselves writing an obituary for the Stratford upon Avon Herald.
Let’s be honest here. The Herald as a weekly newspaper was always a bit odd. For a start, it existed in a town where nothing ever happened. Stratford upon Avon for all its fame was and is completely news-free, and the Herald followed suite.
For instance, go back a few years to when I worked at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. In those days when every play had a ‘Star’ in it, you would have thought that the Herald newshounds and photographers would have been a fixture at the stage door. Poised, ready and waiting for an unguarded moment that would be worth photographing. Or tape recorder in hand to collect a spur-of-the-moment interview, but no.
Nothing like that ever appeared in the Herald. It was almost as though there was a secret agreement not to upset anyone. I know for a fact that newsworthy opportunities were missed. Scandals went unreported and famous actors with loose-lips and pissed to high-heaven , got away with it. And that’s why, here we are, writing an obituary for the Stratford upon Avon Herald
If there was something else that made the Herald stick out like the proverbial sore thumb was, its size. A massive broadsheet that was impossible to handle, in fact, down-right dangerous if you were in a high wind.
From what I hear the family that owned the paper were adamant that it would not become tabloid size, why I don’t know. One thing for sure, in my opinion, if true, their stubbornness cut down on readership.
The truth of the matter is that The Herald became a habit. A bad habit. You bought it, but not necessarily to read cover to cover. Ideal for lining a cat box or the bottom of a large budgie cage the Herald became a regular in most Stratford homes for the wrong reason.
So, that’s it. The Herald has gone. Under administration it awaits a buyer. Personally, I shouldn’t think that would be much of a problem. This is Stratford upon Avon. The Bard’s town.
You would think, wouldn’t you, that someone, somewhere would be able to make the local paper of Shakespeare’s town a roaring success? We’ll see…