Steve Dyson in his blog reviewing regional newspapers, hosted by HoldtheFrontPage, today shows what regional evening newspapers have lost by printing early and losing the ability to run live on the day news.
What must have been painful for Dyson was comparing the way the still "live" Express & Star in Wolverhampton was able to steal a march on the nationals and the paper he used to edit, the now overnight printed Birmingham Mail, by splashing on fugitive gunman Raoul Moat shooting himself in the early hours of the morning while surrounded by police.
Dyson writes: "Yes, this was a national story, but one of such magnitude that only five years ago it would have been the wipe-out, breaking splash in every evening title from Exeter to Carlisle. One of those occasions where regional news desks went home knowing they've stolen a march on the nationals.
"For whatever reason, the Express and Star has resisted the temptation of huge cost savings found by more than two-thirds of previously evening titles that have now gone overnight. Principally, these efficiencies come down to not having to own and operate your own van fleets, as titles completed in the evening can be distributed overnight on WH Smith vans already carrying nationals at a sliver of the price.
"So how can, and why do, the likes of the Express and Star remain live? The 'how' comes down to independent owners who feel no need to makes cuts to keep profit margins in double figures. Whereas Northcliffe, Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press et al felt the FTSE-pinch when margins of nearly 30pc struggled to reach 15pc, the Grahams have always been happy with single figures."
- Editorial consultant Peter Sands has also praised the Express & Star for staying live. He says of the paper: "It has resisted the trend to turn evening newspapers into mornings (a misguided mantra by van drivers in suits purporting to be circulation managers). If something happens in the morning it will be in the paper, and the readers know that. The morning newspaper market is a crowded place where readers have ten papers to choose from, the evening market is an exclusive zone. Where would you rather be?"