Having worked for the company since 1989, Regional Editor Liz Davies is responsible for the news output of the Brecon & Radnor Express and the Tenby Observer Series. Working in the picturesque market town of Brecon in Powys, mid-Wales, she reflects on her career with Tindle Newspapers and the importance placed on local news reporting from within the community.
How would you summarise your role with Tindle Newspapers?
I am fortunate to report on the communities in two of the most beautiful areas in the UK, Tenby on the coast of southwest Wales and Brecon in the Brecon Beacons. Working with colleagues in these two areas, I oversee the content of the Brecon & Radnor Express, which has one edition, and the Tenby Observer Series, which is made up of three local editions.
What did you do before you joined Tindle Newspapers?
I originally did a degree in archaeology and wanted to be an archaeologist but when I came out of university and began to look for work I met a teacher from my school who knew a manager at the Abergavenny Chronicle. There was a vacancy for a junior reporter and I was taken on trial. That was in 1989 and I am still here. I stayed at the Chronicle for a very long time having learned on the job. It was great working for the newspaper in the town where I lived.
I felt strongly that the work that we were doing was having an impact on the residents, with the newspaper embedded in the community. When I moved on to the titles where I work now they shared the ethos of the Tindle newspapers whereby they serve the community first. My commitment to the company is because I really like the way we work. It is a good company to work for as we are at the heart of the community, fulfilling a role in the towns which we serve.
What are the main responsibilities in your role?
For the newspapers, I am responsible for all the content for the Brecon & Radnor Express, which comes out on a Wednesday, as well as the Observer, which is published on Thursdays. Around the print deadlines I am also responsible for the updates to our websites and social media accounts, which are building really good traffic.
Our priority is community news but the two titles are different. Tenby is more of a tourist destination where the resident community has a strong desire to speak to one another. Brecon has more “hard news”. In both areas we have a strong sense of what sorts of stories will “fly” and want to keep the community informed while holding people to account, which is really the basis of a newspaper job. The BBC and bigger publishers are not going to be interested in whether people are getting their rubbish collected on time, but it is a problem for us.
What are the strengths of the news brands?
Our reporters are locally based. Part of the joy of working for Tindle is becoming embedded in the communities. I like to get out to meet new people in both communities so they know the newspaper is there for them. We need to be visible as much as possible as newspapers struggle when they are not. We have offices in both towns and our reporters are out a lot. I do not like to see reporters based in the office all the time and want to know they are out in the community.
What does a typical day in your role involve?
I tend to look at websites for news stories as well as social media. There are Facebook groups connected with both towns so they are good sources of stories. We still use old fashioned shoe leather to get out and see people so it is quiet I like people to go and see what is happening. We have remote working so I do a couple of team video calls each week, including meeting with the reporters all together, which allows them to bounce ideas off each other. There is no such things as a typical day and we enjoy what we do.
What was the most memorable story you have covered?
The one which affected me the most was about a concert pianist who discovered she had breast cancer but was determined to continue with her career. I spoke to her after she found out it was terminal and she was so impressive as she talked about her plans for the future knowing they were unlikely to happen. The story stayed with me and she was one of the most impressive people I ever met. She wanted to raise money for cancer charities so she was doing concerts locally. I do not think it would have made the news without it being in the Tindle title, the Abergavenny Chronicle, from the start. She and her family felt comfortable talking to us because they were rooted in the community and trusted us.
What are the biggest challenges of your role?
The pace of news has changed. It used to be that if something happened on a Friday you had time to prepare the report for the following week’s newspaper. Now when something happens it is on Facebook and it is all over the place. Our challenge is to be the definitive version of what has happened so we get breaking news on our websites and social channels accurately so we are a reliable source of news. Just because something has been on social media does not mean it is true so we have to get the balance right in making full enquiries before we publish online and in our newspapers as people expect us to be accurate.
What advice would you give somebody joining Tindle?
Take the leap. The satisfaction comes from knowing you are doing something which has influence in the community. Embrace the opportunities it gives you. I have done so many things, from compering events at the local theatre to doing live interviews on stage with people. Take every opportunity you offered because it is a wonderful career.