by The Journal editor Brian Aitken
It was that jibe about Detroit that really hurt.
A lengthy analysis about the North East in The Guardian last month concentrated on too many of the bad things and omitted too many of the good things.
Andy Beckett’s article turned on what he perceived to be similarities between the industrial North East and Detroit.
The North East has had problems. It still does. Nobody denies that.
But Detroit’s problems dwarf those faced anywhere over this side of the pond. Bankruptcy, sky-high unemployment and urban dereliction so extreme that whole areas of the city became hollowed out into an urban prairie of concrete over-run with weeds.
To anyone who lives in the North East or who knows it well the comparison was clearly wrong.
But not everyone knows the North East well. They may see it covered with runners every September. They may see a big naked belly picked out at St James’s Park by a BBC cameraman on Match of the Day. They may watch Get Carter and wonder if Newcastle looks any different these days.
In other words, the view of the North East as a post-industrial wasteland may simply have been swallowed whole by people who don’t know us well enough.
The first thing to say to them is, firstly, come up and see us some time.
Second, get a glimpse of what it really means to live or work in this part of the country in the words of the people who live here.
Ten years ago we came up with 100 reasons why it’s great up north. We’ve revisited it a couple of times since and now, to mark a decade since the first one, we’ve given it a major revision.
It does not, of course, mean that there are ONLY 100 reasons to visit the North East. We could have gone on and on.
We asked you to contribute as well and many of your ideas have informed our list. A lot of you mentioned fish and chips or ice cream, eaten while looking out over a favourite vista. Now what does that say about you?
What your contributions showed was the pride and passion you have for our area.
We’ve tried to encapsulate that in this supplement – and tell you something about the history and range of our achievements.
It’s been a joy to do. This is not about putting a positive spin or gloss on our area. It’s the truth. This is a heck of a place and those who haven’t yet tried us out have got a treat to look forward to.
Click on the pages below to read the 100 Reasons Why It's Great Up North - 2014 - supplement in full, or CLICK HERE, to open in a new window.