Goodbye, Croydon


By - Friday 28th September, 2018

How do we write the piece that we never wanted to? Liz Sheppard-Jones tries to make sense of it all


Photo by Fluid4sight, used with permission.

Now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain (Frank Sinatra, ‘My Way’)

It’s still hard to believe, though it’s been inevitable for a while. Our founder and editor-in-chief, James Naylor, took a long, hard look at why in this piece in our final print edition.

It’s over, but the love will remain. The Citizen was founded by – and then attracted many more – people who love Croydon. We loved it before it was cool. Now that it’s grown more edgy, for some of its residents at least, we love it still, but these days loving Croydon is like parenting a teen. Your baby was 100% adorable, and not to blame for anything. The teen who took its place can be extremely annoying. But their eyes are still the eyes of the child who tore your heart wide open, and your love is still the same.

We’ve been moved by all of the messages that we have received: the thank-yous, the regrets, and the confirmation that what we tried to do really mattered to many, many people. It helps us to feel less sad.

Croydon is a state of mind, and we sought to reflect that

As the Citizen said in its early days, the paper was founded on six guiding principles: the ‘Six Pillars‘:

1. Citizen journalism is the future

We still believe it. Modern technology enables many voices to be heard, and this is profoundly empowering.

2. Pluralism is essential, neutrality is impossible 

Sometimes readers struggled with this one. But our response to complaints about opinion pieces – received, by the way, from every point on the political spectrum – was ‘please, then, write a response. Debate. Disagree. This is where you can’. We think that that was right.

3. Discussion is progress, attacks are obstacles 

We wanted to be the anti-Twitter. Firing off responses at speed leads to hasty, bad-tempered exchanges. Submitting a Citizen article took a little time, and the result was so often reflective and helpful.

4. Media is a force; it should choose to be a force for good

“Few organisations have given [the] Croydonites [Festival] the kind of the profile that the Citizen has”, tweeted the Croydonites Festival. “The Citizen gave me my first shot at published writing”, said regular contributor Lauren Furey. “You amplified the good of more community projects than we could count”, said Tech City founder Nigel Dias. So then – job done.

5. Relevance to Croydon matters – not borders 

Are we truly a London borough? Or still a Surrey town? An unrecognised city in our own right? It depends on who you ask. But more than anything else, this place is a state of mind and we sought to reflect that.

6. We believe in Croydon

And that’s why whatever we did, we tried to do it Croydon’s way. It’s been a blast. Goodbye.

Love from Tom Black, James Naylor, Liz Sheppard-Jones and the whole team.

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Liz Sheppard-Jones

Writer and editor. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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