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Woking is facing a blow to its status as a key Surrey town and rival to Guildford with the imminent departure of the News and Mail newspaper, which is relocating its offices from Poole Road in Woking to its parent company’s premises at the Surrey Advertiser in Guildford. This means that with the Woking Informer already gone – it is now based in Chertsey – there are no offices in the town where the citizens of Woking can pop in with local news and speak face-to-face with local reporters. Some may argue that in these days of emails and the internet, and indeed blogs, that doesn’t matter as much as it might once have done. But it will mean the local papers themselves will not provide as good coverage as they used to, as they will inevitably miss stories if they are no longer physically in the community they are meant to serve and report on. It’s a blow to Woking’s prestige: a town that prides itself on its modernity and plans for the future. Interestingly, the Woking News and Mail is ultimately owned by the Guardian Media Group, which publishes the Guardian newspaper.  The Guardian has just moved into plush new offices at King’s Cross, which may explain why some of the local newspapers it owns are being forced to economise.

• The latest development is that News and Mail reporters are resorting to holding a weekly surgery  – a bit  like MPs – at the Lightbox to try and garner some news, following the newspaper decamping to Guildford.


  1. Newsgathering is undergoing a sea change right now, and consolidation is only to be expected. However, I believe the rise in “citizen journalism” will eventually compensate for this, and we can see this by the increasing number of publications (both on and offline) that now encourage Joe Public to send in news reports and pictures. To be honest, I always carry a mobile phone with camera and will “report” back to my blog if I come across a newsworthy situation such as the recent siege of Meirion House.

    As regards Woking specifically, I’ve noticed that there seems to be an extended “silly season”, with a very small amount of news happeing in the town if the News and Mail site is to be believed. Maybe Woking really is such a quiet town or maybe the distance reporting that you mention is already having an effect. If I wanted to be cynical I could say that the “local” papers could tap into the increasing number of CCTV cameras in the area and gather their news that way.

  2. Thanks for your comment, the first one on this site! In a way that supports the point I’m going to make. I don’t happen to believe that ‘citizen journalism’, fun though it may be for those who particpate in it, can ever replace full-time coverage from a team of local, professional journalists. I do agree that it can enhance it. Local papers are certain to make a lot of economic cutbacks in 2009. Let’s hope in due course they will be reversed. In the meantime all those who care should write to the Surrey Advertiser Group protesting at the decision to move the News and Mail out of Woking

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