Rochdale Alternative Paper began in 1971 as they meant to go on. An inflatable, larger-than-life, full-of-hot-air Cyril Smith - soon to become Rochdale's MP - is pictured floating over the Town hall, or is that Big Ben?
Questions - Asked; Bubbles - Pricked; Information - Open; Workers - Heard; Issues - Debated; Rights - Explained; Bosses - Challenged; The Unspoken - Said; Life - Explored.
RAP was just one of a whole network of alternative papers in Greater Manchester through the 1970s and 1980s. Tameside Eye, Mole Express and RAP were probably the key pioneers. The New Manchester Review and Manchester Flash followed.
We hopped on board with City Life in 1983. Our format, much like the NMR and indeed City Limits and Time Out in London and Venue in Bristol was a combination of What's On, alternative views on both arts and news; and investigations.
All but the arts and listings pretty much went after Guardian Media Group bought up City Life. The GMG version featured a few failed, immature and sloppy investigations, attracting the threat of legal action, so they stopped trying. City Life had never once been sued despite running some very edgy but accurate material.
The Manchester Evening News and the local weeklies and dailies have also rather lost the will to investigate. The Rochdale Observer never, but never held Big Cyril's feet to the fire on any of his persistent crapulence. What did he ever really do for the town?
Rochdale Alternative Paper and the like were very important. There is now a vacuum where there should be information and accountability. Can the blogs and social media take up the slack? We'll see. Trinity Mirror have just bought a near county-wide monopoly from GMG. They can get away with any old drivel. And they do.
NEXT POST: RAP's greatest investigation. Cyril Smith's predilections are evidenced but the process of justice falls down as strings are pulled to save the big bully boy's arse.