A day in the life: Editor Alison Stephenson

Alison Stephenson is the editor of the Tavistock Times Gazette series, responsible for the delivery of the latest news and content across the websites, newspapers and social media.

Having worked for the company for more than 25 years, she talks about the enjoyment she gets from delivering trusted, positive news to the local communities. Alison explains: “With Tindle it is about hyper local news and I have never wanted to do anything other than that.”

What are the main responsibilities in your role?

My role is to decide which content is used across the production of the newspapers and the uploads to our websites.

I am hands-on in my role, editing reporters’ stories and going through the submitted stories which come in from local correspondents, as well as finding and writing content and engaging with the community.

My job is to decide which stories we cover so that our readers know what is going on in their community.

When did you join the company?

I joined the company more than 25 years ago as a reporter on the Cornish & Devon Post, based in Launceston. I have worked in several roles before becoming editor of the Tavistock Times Gazette series in 2016.

What is a typical day in your role like?

We offer daily updates to our website, with breaking news on incidents like road traffic accidents or court appearances uploaded throughout the week. We add stories which have appeared in the paper once it has been published each week, so my role is around deciding which stories go where.

Each day kicks off with a meeting with the reporters to discover which leads for stories they have. We decide who they need to call and how long each story is expected to take, as well as how much content we can expect. I have reporters covering specific areas, so they often help each other with contacts and information.

While they work on the stories, I am looking at the submitted news stories and photos sent in from across the community to assign them to the websites and news pages, around the advertising which has been booked.

I’m in regular contact with our digital editorial colleagues about the performance of our websites, understanding which content gets the best reaction.

I also speak to other editors to share knowledge about the performance of stories. It is great to get out and meet the community to see things for myself.

How important is your title to the local area?

We cover a large farming region, which has an area of outstanding natural beauty. The environment we live and work in is significant in everything we do.

People live in communities which are very spread out so our title provides a connection for them, whether it is our websites or our newspaper. They feel connected through our news.

Our region is very rural so stories do not just drop into your lap. We get stories by building contacts, which is a big part of each week’s work for all the team.

They need to be contacting people to generate the stories which people expect from our titles.

How do you get involved in the local community?

We are very much part of the local community, getting involved in everything from the local customer service awards through to the Dickensian Evening which is held each year in the run-up to Christmas.

Although we operate in a big area we have very loyal advertisers as we offer a unique product providing very local news.

The local community want to see their groups and societies featured in our coverage as their work is essential. We are very grateful to the community for contributing each week.

What has working for Tindle meant to you?

Personally, I have always been a rural girl having lived in Cornwall most of my life apart from a spell working in London. I have loved the opportunity to work in community-based news.

Being a reporter definitely helps develop your social skills and gives you confidence in speaking to people from all walks of life. I learnt so many things about different subjects and developed skills in court reporting and shorthand which have all been vital to the role.

What is the culture like, working for Tindle?

People have asked me if I would not have rather worked for a larger newspaper. Working for this company really satisfies me because no two days are the same.

You do not have to live in a big town or city to get great stories, which is the real thrill of the job.

It was nice to work in a flexible way when I had my children. Overall, when you work in news you are excited by not knowing what is going to happen next.

It is so lovely to be inspired each day by the things that people do, which generates fantastic human interest stories which people want to read.

What is your approach to covering local news?

We aim to concentrate on positive news. We had lots of comments throughout the pandemic because we covered the positive things people were doing in such a difficult time.

I love it when that I can walk through the streets here and people say hello and want to talk about the news we produce. It is rewarding to help people. With Tindle it is about hyper local news and I have never wanted to do anything other than that.

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