MEDIA PROFILE: A local political animal - Jake Arnold-Forster, editor, Local Government Chronicle

To the casual observer, Jake Arnold-Forster presents an interesting mixture. On the one hand, this is a man who spent large parts of the 1980s working as a carpenter or a shop assistant to fuel his wanderlust and finance his global adventures. On the other, this is a man who admits to being excited by the driest nitty gritty of local government business.

To the casual observer, Jake Arnold-Forster presents an interesting

mixture. On the one hand, this is a man who spent large parts of the

1980s working as a carpenter or a shop assistant to fuel his wanderlust

and finance his global adventures. On the other, this is a man who

admits to being excited by the driest nitty gritty of local government

business.



He’s in the right place, of course. He’s just been appointed editor of

the Local Government Chronicle after three years as its deputy. In fact,

he’s been on the title since 1990 and he really loves it, catering for

the thousands of different interests that make up the title’s

readership.



’I love some of the dry bits of local government,’ he confesses. ’I like

exploring some of the nooks and crannies of the councils.’



However, he’s not just a man for the minutiae. He came to journalism

after travelling because he thought he needed a career and he seems to

be a natural. His favourite story to date on the title was the leak of

central government budget plans for local councils. Unlike Piers Morgan

at the Daily Mirror, the LGC decided to publish and be damned. Indeed,

they did the same thing the following year when they got the same plans

again.



’We need to keep on getting scoops like that,’ says Arnold-Forster.

’There’s quite a cosy love-in between local government and the new

central government at the moment and if we can pull the wool away from

everyone’s eyes regarding that, we’ll be doing both sides a favour.’



Apart from more scoops, Arnold-Forster wants to involve more lower level

employees and councillors in the Chronicle’s pages. He hopes, for

instance, to profile some of the people below the senior level. ’We also

need to lose this rather po-faced approach we have,’ he says candidly.

’You may not believe me, but there is a lot of fun and gossip in local

government and we should be relaying more of that.’



He’s keen for the PR industry to become involved here. While he loathes

the pointless pictures of handshaking mayors and floral roundabouts that

some press officers send him, he’s keen to talk to people about the

events they are planning that might have a national resonance. ’Don’t

just send us a picture,’ he begs. ’Ring up before the event and we can

plan the kind of stuff we want with you.’



Although a redesign is on the way (’we’re better designed than our

competitors but we don’t really rate against other trade titles’) he is

only planning a few tweaks at the moment. The readership is living

through a time of enormous change as the new Government pays more

attention to the sector than ever. For Arnold-Forster, there’s so much

news out there at the moment that he’s going to be concentrating on that

for a while.



HIGHLIGHTS

1989 - Reporter, Government Computing and the British Journal of

Healthcare

1990 - Finance and IT correspondent, Local Government Chronicle

1991 - Political correspondent, LGC

1994 - Deputy editor, LGC

1997 - Editor, LGC



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