WHY did we do it?
What possessed a newspaper’s cadre of columnists to jump ship and take our weekly opinionated outbursts, tongue-in-cheek comments, sage counsel, silliness, sarcasm and mockery out of The Journal and onto the web?
Well, pay for a start: we were told we were no longer going to get any, though the paper would be delighted for us to continue writing for nothing.
Then there was principle: a 700-word-a-week columnist had to be worthy of his or her hire, even at Comrade Hann’s princely £50 price.
Finally, and conclusively, was Denise Robertson’s determination that the voice of northern opinion should not be silenced. The TV agony aunt had come to the aid of the paper after giving up her Daily Express column “because they told me The Journal was under pressure and needed help,” she said.
“Eventually I wrote for half the agreed fee [to help the paper’s finances] because it allowed me to rant about the injustices of this world. And as they seem to be increasing daily there’s still plenty to write about!”
Her closing words, beautifully articulated in her inspiring message of encouragement, galvanised the project.
“We MUST continue to write,” urged Denise. “I really fear that our northern voice will vanish unless we do this. There will just be one voice emanating from the South and probably a pretend northern-ness somewhere.
“Let me know what you want and when you want it and I’ll do it!”
That was the keystone. THAT was why we did it. As Banksy wrote in his first column for this new site of collected writings, “four infamous fellows now have our Famous Fifth and a powerful new voice begins to sound.”
To be joined, no doubt, by a host of writers and commentators eager to bring a much-overlooked region to national prominence. To stir local passion and national conscience. To provide a platform for YOUR comments and thoughts.
To truly become the Voice of the North!