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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 00:24 GMT 01:24 UK
Reading paper gets Polish edition
By Mario Cacciottolo
BBC News

Reading Chronicle editor Simon Jones
Simon Jones says newspapers should build community bridges

The Reading Chronicle newspaper has printed 5,000 copies of its latest edition in Polish, as an experiment in catering for the large number of Poles living in the town, and to help reach out to that section of its population.

The phrase "community cohesion" is one that the Reading Chronicle's youthful-looking editor, Simon Jones, uses quite a lot.

He has, it must be said, put his editorial where his mouth is, by organising the publication of one edition of the paper partly in the Polish language.

This project is, he says, an attempt to embrace the sizeable Polish community in Reading, Berkshire, to "build bridges" between the indigenous population and the ever-growing numbers of immigrants.

A weekly paper with a 24,000 circulation, the Chronicle's latest edition has seen an additional 5,000 copies printed which have their first six pages printed in the Eastern European language, directly translated from the English copies.

"There aren't any firm figures but we think there are 8,000 Polish people living here and they have integrated very well," said Mr Jones.

"They first came after the war and nowadays contribute a lot to manual labour, sometimes in areas like plumbing and mechanics and the service industry.

Newspaper billboards
Polish billboards have been put up around Reading

"What we're doing is all about community cohesion, getting them involved in the fabric of the community.

"This is a Reading paper for Polish people, not a Polish paper for Polish people.

"Community cohesion is a huge topic up and down the country and people might say immigrants should be able to speak English.

"Well, yes, they should - but that's not going to happen overnight.

"Papers like us need to start building bridges with these new and emerging communities. It's up to us to get the message out to them, not wait for them to come to us.

"This wasn't asked for, we just decided to be pro-active and do it."

Media spotlight

Getting the message out in Polish was not without its difficulties for a paper that does not employ any Poles on its editorial staff.

Mr Jones admits that the launch of the Polish edition was supposed to take place last week, but their computer systems could not cope with the Polish alphabet.

"We only have one computer that had the right software to deal with the foreign characters, and we had to send off the English articles to be translated locally, and then send them off again to a Polish sub-editor."

The idea certainly seems to have caught the media's attention, as Mr Jones is interrupted to be told the television news wants to interview him - much of his day, he says, is to be spent talking to the media about what his paper has done.

Ewa Wruszczak
Ewa Wruszczak says a Polish edition of the local paper is overdue

"I wouldn't be surprised if some of the national papers go down the same route, and I know that some other regional papers are also looking at what we're doing."

Kronika Reading, as the paper is known in Polish, is supposed to be a one-off but Mr Jones says the project will be repeated if it proves a success.

"There's two barometers to measure it by, one being hard sales, the other on feedback that we'll get. After the first three or four hours we've already heard of people queuing up for copies."

Out on Reading's streets on Thursday, billboards written in Polish were dotted about, and copies of Kronika Reading certainly seemed to be proving popular, particularly at Malinka, a Polish delicatessen painted a cheerful red and crammed with heavily-stocked shelves.

"People have been interested in it," says Gosia Towianska, a 26-year-old shop assistant.

"In the last two minutes I've just sold three copies. But we need more, people have been disappointed that there's only six pages."

She casts a beady eye out of the window at a man carrying a television camera outside, before re-stocking a gap on the shelf behind her with more copies of the Kronika.

'Feeling at home'

Passing through the shop's door was Ewa Wruszczak, aged 44, a Polish resident of Reading.

English and Polish editions of the Reading Chronicle
The Polish edition is a translation of the English one

"This is a fantastic idea and should have been done long ago," she said.

"This way, people coming over from Poland can find out about the area. It will make them feel more at home.

"And people are always putting Polish adverts in shop windows. If we could do that in the paper it would make it more readable."

Derek Commander, aged 38, is a Welshman living locally who is keen on the Kronika.

"I think it's a brilliant idea. A lot of Poles can speak English but if they can read news in their own language then it will be comforting.

"This is something that should be done around Britain anyway, because we're a multi-cultural society."

Dr Susan Arstall, aged 58, of Reading, said: "It's a good idea because it will help Poles to know what's going on locally.

"Once they're here they have to try and mix with people and this would help them feel more at home in Reading."

Town's support for migrant Poles
25 Sep 06 |  South West Wales
Country profile: Poland
25 Sep 06 |  Country profiles
The Polish question
22 Sep 06 |  Politics Show

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