1. Bristol’s Venue magazine is being closed for good.
The listings magazine for south west England was started in 1982 but went online-only last year.
Publishers Local World, who own dozens of regional newspapers, have now decided to close it for good.
2. It’s all part of wider cuts to regional newspapers. Local World wants to completely change how publications are made.
Local World owner David Montgomery has angered long-standing journalists by proposing a future where local newspapers are put together by a handful of desk-based editors sifting through press releases.
Depending on your view he’s either a visionary who may just about to be able to save something of a dying industry. Or someone who doesn’t care for local traditions.
3. Either way, the remaining staff at Venue don’t like it. And have written this final editorial on their own site.
4. First, they give a cautious welcome to their replacement site.
So, here we are then. Friday 29 November 2013. Venue’s last day on Earth. Hours from being swept away as part of what you so dreamily term “the development of the what’s on module.” Sometime in December, we learn, venue.co.uk will re-emerge, like butterfly become grub, as www.bristolpostwhatson.co.uk. Because, heck, nothing answers “Hey, where to find what’s happening in town tonight?” quite so snappily as www.bristolpostwhatson.co.uk. Given a firm push, a downhill gradient and a stiff following wind, it just rolls off the tongue.
5. Then the outgoing journalists explain how much they enjoyed their jobs.
The two remaining of our number, working part-time on alternate weeks, would be the first to admit that Venue is a husk of its former self. Frankly, they’ll be glad to be put out of their misery. Where once they were part of a vast team of journalists delivering informed, first-hand comment from every last facet of city life, today our hapless duo struggle to do much more than pass on received opinion and rehash press releases.
6. They mention past successes.
We’re not going to claim we ever “championed” Banksy. We never really went in for “championing”. We simply covered everything we considered of value. So we might not have “championed” street art, but we did report it. Always. Even before 1985, the year of Arnolfini’s seminal ‘Graffiti Art’ exhibition, featuring work from the UK’s first wave of can-wielders. One of them was called 3D, or Robert Del Naja. He went on to co-found Massive Attack. We put Massive Attack on the cover before they’d even released a single.
7. The team welcome the fact that the existing site will become an exciting commercial opportunity.
You want to hand over that legacy to a paper whose management - not journalists - are the precise equivalent of those radio stations which promise “your better music mix” and then put the same few songs on repeat. Which claim “the best new music” and fail to add “once it has charted and proved its popularity.” You want to hand over that legacy because, to quote from a staff email you neglected to send us, “The existing Venue website has really good functionality with a real blend of music reviews, listings, restaurant reviews etc, etc. This is a fantastic opportunity to grow our digital audience and a great platform to sell advertising on.”
8. They even pay tribute to the management team.
Do you have any idea how much that hurts, Local World? Of course you don’t. You who boast all the cultural hinterland of a freshly discarded wet wipe.
9. But they politely suggest that Local World won’t be taking control of any of the material on the site.
And now you presume to inherit our work. We were writers, Local World, photographers, not “content providers”. We were bound together not only by our city, but by a love of language, of striking image. Our editors consistently backed our individual judgement and allowed us complete freedom of expression. As a result, Venue inspired a loyalty out of all proportion with the pittance it paid. Local World, we put our very heart and soul into our catalogue of work. And if you think you can now simply walk in and trample on its remains, then you can, with the very greatest lack of respect, fuck the fuck off.
10. And in a final paragraph signed by 50 current and former Venue journalists, they declare:
We, the undersigned, do hereby assert our full rights under copyright law. It really would be for the best if you were take a moment to visit this page on the Venue website. Sit down, take a deep breath, and pause and reflect on this: “This website and its content is the copyright of the individual authors credited.” Please be assured we did not pull this phrase out of our collective arses, but out of legal statute. And if we perceive so much as a single full-stop, a solitary pixel of our work when your shameless hijacking is unveiled, then you in turn can expect to perceive a court summons. We are, to put it in terms you regularly use but cannot hope to understand, passionate about defending our legacy.
11. UPDATE: For some reason Local World has taken the entire Venue website offline.
We can’t think why.
You can still read the full post here.