Local news is an acquired taste. To the newcomer or casual visitor, the local freesheet is good only for wrapping fish'n'chips. But within a week or two, the stories of local construction projects, fatal car accidents and library events become utterly, frighteningly fascinating. Pretty soon you start to have positions on local matters you had never previously considered.
Many months after I left London I still check the Camden New Journal for the latest on the controversial 393 bus route (out of interest, I was pro). And to see if my favourite letter writer, a certain Skip Murphy, is still sending his weekly missives. He weighs in on everything from teenage knife crime (I'm anti), the new swimming pool in Kentish Town (I'm pro) and vegetarianism (neutral). Seriously, every single week. I suspect if he didn't write in one week he CNJ would send out a search party.
I especially enjoy the panic stricken stories about local treasures which are under threat, like the scuzzy patch of grass by the railway bridge on Prince of Wales Road. Imagine my horror today on finding that one of my favourite local boozers needs to be saved, and by Ed Milliband no less. Yikes, this must be serious! On closer inspection it turns out to be a classic local newspaper scaremongering. The pub landlord wants to build flats above the pub. Phew! And there I was thinking it was about to be bulldozed. Ah, CNJ, you get me every time.
The Malibu Surfside News is a bit less shouty. The front page is usually about the weather. Weather news in Malibu is fairly limited, but they make the most of any unseasonably warm or rainy spell. My favourite is when they make front page news out the fact it's sunny. In the summer. 'Sun in Southern California summer shocker!'.
A side note - where were the Surfside reporters when our Dick was being rescued by porpoises? Probably the best Malibu news story of all time and they did not cover it. Shame! Dick claims to have fallen asleep while surfing and drifted out to sea, only to be rescued and pushed home by a school of porpoises. Silliness abounds.
Ah, I'll miss the Surfside news. Wonder what's in store in NYC's local rags... watch this space...