Friday, 4 September 2009
Birmingham Mail: Steve Dyson responds
Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson has responded to the week of postings on his blog about the future of the Trinity Mirror-owned paper and whether it might switch to a morning title, printed overnight.
"1/ First and foremost, some have presumed that should the Birmingham Mail go overnight it would become second-rate. I’d like to make it clear that, whatever the decision on the ‘overnight or live’ question, the editor and journalists will strive to produce a paper of the highest quality possible. Why, only this week, we began a top-notch, exclusive 3-day part work on the life story of local BBC presenter Ashley Blake, jailed on Wednesday. The quality, readability and newspaper sales-worth of such journalism can be created regardless of publication times.
2/ We’re not talking about the possibility of the whole paper changing. The Birmingham Mail, like all evening newspapers still printed on the day they sell, is c. 20% ‘live’, with many overnight pages laid down the day before. It’s only the first seven and last seven or so pages, plus race cards and share prices, that are completed on-day, often with stories developed the previous day.
3/ Some say a morning Mail would be like reading the Metro or a national paper, but of course the Mail would largely be filled with LOCAL stories not found anywhere else.
4/ Many say they fear overnight would hit sales; but while readers’ and newsagents’ views should and are being considered, it’s worth pointing out that other newspapers in other towns and cities that have made this move do not report a worsening circulation trend because of this change. Some state that earlier availability has helped.
5/ There is a fast-growing audience on birminghammail.net, and this provides the ability to add the "up to the minute" dimension.
Of course, both live and overnight strategies have advantages and disadvantages, and we all have opinions on those.
But those opinions have to be weighed up against the economic reality that the company is in, and judged against the various factors involved.
And again, whatever the decision, those who edit, write and produce the paper will proudly work at making it a brilliant read."