No one has escaped the challenges of the past 18 months. Equally there can be few who have not reflected, whether as individuals, families or businesses, on what is important and what their primary focus and purpose should be. We have all certainly learned to recognise what is important.
Not since the dark days of German Occupation between 1940 and 1945 has Jersey faced the fear, uncertainty and isolation that has characterised 2020 and 2021. And not since that chapter of Island history has the community needed its local newspaper as much as it has done recently.
In so many ways, I am proud of the way the JEP team, which now numbers around 70, has provided the vital community glue that brought people together when it was needed most.
The pandemic has also caused us to pause and reflect, and today we have a much clearer idea of how we can use our position in the Island to support Jersey – its people and businesses, while never losing the independence which enables us to report fairly, accurately and without fear or favour.
A trusted source of news
One of the great privileges of being a journalist is to have a ringside seat to observe events, meet people from all walks of life and share what we find with our readers. Sometimes our role is more active – when we use our influence to push on the door of history, helping to turn the page onto a new chapter of Jersey’s story.
Throughout the pandemic, more and more people have turned to the JEP to give them the facts amid deafening noise. We have championed readers’ right to know when those in power hid the facts. We have campaigned tirelessly for openness and honesty, and we responded to the growing sense of panic with fair, accurate and measured reporting, collating the latest stats and keeping people informed every step of the journey with ‘breadth and depth’ journalism.
In recent months, members of the JEP news team have provided in-depth reports on a wide range of subjects, all based on a thirst for the facts, trusted contacts and a passion for breaking the story.
Our coverage of the fishing dispute is a great example of all that in action. Our special edition of 7 May after the harbour blockade, which featured a wrap, superb images and 11 pages of in-depth reporting, was a superb team effort. Our images were syndicated around the world, ending up on many front pages.
Our exclusives unearthed stories such as Charlie Parker’s ‘second job’ and have shone a light into the impact of staff shortage at the hospital.
But it is not just these high-impact stories which are so important to our news coverage. We have celebrated personal and business achievements, told the stories of charities and their fundraisers and so much more. We have even reported on a runaway tortoise in Trinity…
And the words are invariably illustrated with great photos taken by our photographers who know their Island like no one else, and love celebrating its beauty and diversity.
Supporting business – connecting people
Within days of lockdown being announced last year we were publishing lists of businesses (at no cost to advertisers) offering crucial delivery services (Delivering for You campaign) and supporting hospitality (Rediscover Home campaign). And we have not stopped thinking about how we can play our part positively ever since.
Our Celebrate Local campaign underlines the need to spend Jersey pounds in Jersey – especially as we rebuild the economy. We helped keep many small businesses afloat during lockdown and beyond, offering free ad space. Those businesses are repaying that loyalty as we emerge from the second wave in acknowledgement of the pivotal role the newspaper played.
The campaign is also a reminder to recognise and celebrate so much that is great about our island, from those who grow and catch such amazing produce, to landscapes and opportunities to get close to nature.
In the next year, we will be looking to take this further – using our platforms and ability to bring people together to achieve specific aims and to ensure the really important questions get the attention they deserve. That is more important than ever with elections looming in June 2022 and the need for Jersey to identify a vision for the future.
Marking important anniversaries
We play a central role in marking important Island anniversaries. For the past two years the JEP has helped lead celebrations and inform reflection on Liberation Day because events have had to be cancelled. In 2021, our Liberation Day 72pp souvenir edition was packed with never-told-before stories and iconic images we discovered in the depths of a German archive.
A genuine community enterprise – working with readers as partners and sharing our platforms to launch new sections
Despite the challenges, the paper has grown in many ways over the past 18 months. We launched Ride, a cycling supplement written by local enthusiasts reflecting the spike in popularity for pedal power during lockdown. We have collaborated with St Helier and now publish the Town Crier as part of the JEP once a month.
And, of course, we work with our readers to help provide expert comment and insight about the environment, business, politics and just about everything else which prompts conversations and debates in Jersey.
Pride of Jersey
The pandemic meant that we had to postpone the 2020 Pride of Jersey awards night, which is always one of the highlights of the JEP year. The awards have been running for six years and celebrate the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people in a number of categories, from teacher, environmentalist and ambassador, to fundraiser, neighbour and grandparent. It is always humbling to read the many ways in which people go above and beyond to support each other and their community.
We are currently ramping up preparations for awards night in September and I cannot wait to be a part of such as important date that will mean so much more this year.