Recent events sent us scuttling into our archive room to leaf through old bound copies of the Bury Free Press and our cuttings files from the early and mid-1990s.
Our research showed the benefits of keeping records and we were able to reveal to readers the full background to the Scott Rogers shooting in the US.
In addition to that – and apart from the not-so-shocking revelation that old file copies of newspapers are real dust-gatherers and leave the reader feeling like he needs a shower – leafing through pages of news from the not too distant past showed us just how much local journalism, and the world in general, has changed.
Particularly noticeable was the amount of death and destruction reported by the news team of the day.
Fatal car crashes seemed an almost daily occurrence, as did house fires.
Nowadays, we still report on road traffic accidents – sometimes we feel swamped by them – but luckily they rarely turn out to be fatal.
This isn’t just accidental, if you’ll excuse the pun.
Years of work by highways engineers, planners, law-makers and law-enforcers have seen road conditions improved, speed limits reduced and regulations, like mandatory seatbelt-wearing, more stringently policed.
Technology has also moved on apace and cars are so much safer now with better brakes, airbags and designs engineered to minimise injuries to drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
On the road, they weren’t so much the good old days. However, in the newsroom, I think they may have been.
Of course, back then, the worldwide web was in its infancy, email unheard of and mobile phones yet to take off. I admit that without these technologies, the dissemination of information was limited – it lacked the immediacy of a rolling news story on a website, the instant tweets and comments of readers, but it did mean that people had to talk to each other – surely the best method of communication ever devised.
-- Returning to the roads, can I just remind drivers – especially those using the A14 in the morning and evening – that the great headlights they put it cars nowadays are particularly useful in foggy conditions. They help me see you!