Written by Harry Porter
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Topics: England, Newspaper

Thursday, 5 August 2004

image for Local newspapers ban golden weddings
Golden weddings - now just a slice of history

Local newspaper owners across England have slapped a ban on golden wedding reports.

The traditional ‘golden couple' headlines are now viewed as ‘boring' with the copy taking up valuable space that could be used for generating advertising revenue from kebab houses and pizza parlours.

Speaking at its annual conference in Brighton's Sefton Delmer Hotel, David Byrne, chairman of the Newspaper Proprietors' Association, said the decision had not been taken lightly but was one all members felt was definitely in their own financial interest.

"The fact is," he explained," historically, the only newsworthy aspect to a golden wedding was that two people were still alive who had bothered to stay together for half a century. It is just not a sexy story.

"We are all sick fed up of hearing that the secret of their happy marriage was a little bit of ‘give and take' and that the couple had originally met at the dancing…

"It really is tedious, unoriginal stuff and doesn't generate extra sales or make us extra money."

Mr Byrne revealed that a group of weekly newspapers in the North East had tried to spice up its golden wedding coverage.

"The idea was to get the couple to confess to early ‘sexploits', infidelities, domestic abuse and substance misuse, but most couples just wouldn't play ball," he explained.

"A few did go along with it but the stories just didn't work when run alongside a picture of a couple of smiling 70-year-olds cutting a cake; so we decided to pull the plug.

"Now, if the family wants to see a so-called ‘happy couple' celebrating 50 years of ‘wedded bliss', then they'll have to pay."

The Society of Editors has reacted strongly to the decision, claiming it further undermined the role of weekly and regional newspapers in the community.

Tina Weymouth, president, said: "We are getting to the stage where virtually everything run in many local papers is on a pre-paid basis. Obituaries, retirements, cheque presentations, even junior football results all have to be paid for before they are published.

"We even had an instance where a primary school's sports results came under this ruling.

"It cost one family nearly £200 after their six-year-old son came third in the sack race, second in the flat race and won the egg and spoon final."

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