How was the Croydon Citizen made?


By - Friday 21st September, 2018

Former General Manager Tom Black explains the Citizen behind the scenes


How did the Citizen operate day-to-day?

The Citizen was run by one person full-time, assisted by a team of volunteers in their spare time. The people filling these roles changed across the life of the publication.

Once per week, usually on Sunday mornings, the core editorial team would meet over Google Hangout and discuss various matters arising, as well as plan out the next few weeks of scheduled articles for online publication. There would also be updates on the progress of the next print edition. All communication outside of these meetings was done using project management tools, most prominently Atlassian’s JIRA.

The Citizen had a physical presence in Croydon thanks at first to a free desk at Matthews Yard, then in 3Space, and finally a rented membership package at Sussex Innovation Croydon.

How did we design each edition of the Citizen?

At our Sunday meetings we selected articles for print from the previous week’s online pieces. These were then sent to a designer, usually me as General Manager, who would use Adobe InDesign to lay out these articles and insert any advertising that also needed to feature in the edition.

Communication about all of this would again occur over JIRA, enabling everyone to work from home in their own time. A team of volunteer proofreaders looked over every page of the edition before publication.

Our front covers were created by local artists, of whom we built up a large database over the years. Special mention must go to Lis Watkins, who created more than anyone else, and whose work always earned very positive feedback from readers.

How did we distribute the Citizen?

Working first with Newsquest and latterly with Iliffe Print, 10,000 (later 15,000) copies of the paper were printed every month and were delivered straight to Croydon. Initially they would be delivered to Matthews Yard, later on they arrived at our various offices, and finally we began renting a storage unit in South Croydon.

Some papers were sent directly to supermarkets every month, others were posted to supporters who had subscribed to the paper. The rest were either given to the charismatic and talented Robert Salter, who gave them out on the high street, or to me and Liz Sheppard-Jones, who then drove around Croydon delivering them to about 100 venues across the borough.

Who were we?

The Citizen’s writers were always you – its readers. You can find a full list on our website. The paper could simply not have existed without those 578 people.

People came and went from the Citizen’s core editorial team over the years. Tom Lickley, Raj, Cassie, Nadim, and Jake all have our thanks for everything that they did. But the four central figures of the Citizen all had something to do with virtually every edition of the paper you ever saw on the streets of Croydon: James Naylor, Rob Mayo, Liz Sheppard-Jones and me, Tom Black.

I will not forget any of my experiences at the Citizen, nor any of the articles that the people of Croydon shared with one another. Thank you for everything. It was a pleasure and a privilege to deliver the Citizen to you all. Literally.

Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom is the Citizen's General Manager, and spent his whole life in Croydon until moving to Balham in 2017. He also writes plays that are occasionally performed and books that are occasionally enjoyed. He's been a Labour Party member since 2007, and in his spare time runs an online publishing house for alternate history books, Sea Lion Press. He is fluent in Danish, but speaks no useful languages. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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