Fringe Box



A One-Year-Old Dragon

Published on: 27 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 28 Mar, 2013

Dragon Roar Still 470By Martin Giles

The Guildford Dragon NEWS is one year old today.

Many might have doubted our chances of survival, but we are still here trying our best to live up to our motto, “Guildford News for Guildford people, brought to you by Guildford reporters.”

Our initial motivation and beliefs have strengthened over that period. We remain convinced that it is important for those living and working in Guildford to have an interest in its affairs and news. The endemic apathy in many quarters towards local politics must be challenged for a healthy democracy to exist. Our heritage must be protected and our future properly planned both with equal vigour.

The year has not been without its challenges. We had hardly started when Guildford Borough Council threatened legal proceedings because we dared to publish the truth that two senior officers had been suspended. Embarrassingly for the council, email evidence was able to show that it was the council that had failed to check its facts before putting pen to paper. Not us. It might have wished to quickly slay the Dragon but it turned out it was no St George.

Nonetheless, we continue with an apolitical standpoint and a healthy scepticism towards party politics, especially at a local level where its function seems, to many, unnecessary. Scrutiny is an important function of the media and a responsibility we take seriously. That does not mean to say that we do not have respect for the council too. Much good work, including the Olympic Torch Relay event and the Tour of Britain cycle race finish, were organised superbly and we said so, recognising contributions from the leaders and managers to those council workers responsible for the important clear up.

One year ago Launch night in the undercroft of the Angel Hotel

One year ago launch night in the undercroft of the Angel Hotel.

We describe ourselves as an online newspaper. We have suitable presentational style we have purposely selected, because we wish to take on the best of the traditions of local newspaper publishing in this country, less common these days, by reporting with unmatched local knowledge and with fairness, balance and accuracy. In practice this means checking facts, corroborating claims and always trying to get the other side of the story.

This is not always easy. Saying nothing seems to be the default position of many when faced with a press enquiry. This is always frustrating and sometimes seems strange when the story is uncontroversial and only facts are being requested. It can also seem hypocritical when compared with claimed values of ‘openness and transparency’.

Opinion Logo 2We take pride in bringing you the news not only fairly but as quickly as possible. We believe it is time to move away from the notion that local news is something that should be served up weekly, meaning some stories can be almost a fortnight old when published.

We have often, over the last year, succeeded in being the first to report Guildford news stories. Just two examples are the change in leadership of the council in September, reported with far more insight than other local media; and more recently, the tragic incident at G Live, a national story which The Guildford Dragon NEWS was the first to break.

Such success has contributed to the steady growth in our readership over the year. In February we gained 40,000 page views and it is rare for us to have fewer than 1,000 page views on any single day.

Hopefully this is because our profile and reputation is growing too and more and more people in Guildford are realising that The Guildford Dragon NEWS is here as their news service, where not only can they read about the latest Guildford news but they can interact by engaging in immediate debate through comments and letters that are published quickly.

We are particularly proud of our local history and local nature content. David Rose is the most popular author of local history books of Guildford there has ever been, so Dragon readers are lucky to have him bring you more stories from Guildford’s past in a way intended to make them accessible to all. And we are very grateful to those who submit regular reports on the local nature scene, as well as photographers who have submitted some stunning images for readers to enjoy and sometimes marvel at.

Another area of success has been our theatre and, more recently, classical concert reviews. Not only are they, we believe, fair, constructive and knowledgeable, they are produced quickly, normally published the morning after press night. So that, if it is not a single performance, readers have a chance to consider booking for the show reviewed.

But just 12 months in, we are still very young and there remains a lot of growth, development and improvement required. We are not awash with resource either, financial or manpower, but we hope to continue steady and sustainable progress.

We now have someone to manage our advertising, so if you wish to get your messages in front of our readers please email

One area we wish we could develop is local sports coverage. If you are a local club who can submit regular reports, with pictures, please do contact us. And if you think you could be our volunteer sports editor we would very much like to talk to you. we should be able to get you.

TGDN DragonSo, in summary, the Guildford Dragon, hatched exactly a year ago, is still quite small. But it is a healthy beast and can already, on occasion, breathe a bit of fire. As one reader said the other day: “Oh, you are from the Guildford Dragon. I have noticed that you are often first with the news and you don’t pull your punches. I like that.”

Please don’t forget, the Dragon is not just ours, its creators, it is yours, its readers too. If you like it and find it useful, informative or interesting you can help it succeed by simply telling you friends and neighbours and encouraging them to read it and inform us of potential news stories in your areas of Guildford. Perhaps they would even like to advertise?

We think you need The Guildford Dragon NEWS. The Guildford Dragon NEWS certainly needs you.

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Responses to A One-Year-Old Dragon

  1. Fiona White Reply

    March 28, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Thank you for starting up The Guildford Dragon run by people who have such a commitment to the area. It is good to have such local online news.

  2. Peter Bullen Reply

    March 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Happy birthday, Dragon! You’ve made awesome progress as a daily news source. Congratulations!

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 29, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Happy birthday Dragon. Congratulations! May your untiring effort in reporting events so impartially and involving local people to participate, comment and question on matters that affect them, continue to grow.

  4. Gordon Bridger Reply

    March 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Congratulations on producing such a professional and valuable newspaper dealing with badly needed and often overlooked Guildford news. A really impressive achievement.

  5. Shirley and Brian West Reply

    March 31, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Happy birthday Dragon!

    Just a big thank you for all your kindness to my charity the British Heart Foundation. You always find the time to turn up and report our events.

    I congratulate you.

    Shirley West BHF

    [Thank you. Don’t forget the BEM Shirley! Ed]

  6. Ray Springer Reply

    April 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Happy birthday – agree with all the comments made above.

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