Wednesday 26 August 2009

Brum Post editor: 'Why we must go weekly'

Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves has posted on his blog the reasons why the Birmingham Post should go weekly.
Reeves, who has edited the Post for the past three years, notes the Midlands region of Trinity Mirror will lose £6 million next year unless some radical action is taken now and "the Post as a key title must play its part in plugging that profit gap."
He says: "The facts: our biggest expenses are staff and manufacturing costs. Any change that doesn't reduce either or both of these areas simply won't plug the profit gap, so our approach is to look at reducing the overall number of pages printed per week. With each page lost, you reduce the absolute cost of the ink and paper - and also the work that goes into producing the content, and hence the labour cost. We've therefore looked at reducing the size of the paper on an average day, or reducing the number of days per week on which we publish. The somewhat zanier ideas that we rejected early on included total closure, a merger with the Birmingham Mail, or even going bi-weekly.
"We're now left with two options, each of which result in broadly the same improvement of the profit position of the Post, but are at opposite ends of the spectrum.In the first option, the daily pagination of the Post would be reduced to just 40 or 48 pages per day, including Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, when we currently regularly exceed 60 pages. Because of the need for savings, many of those pages will need to rely more on contributed content and national stories from agencies than is currently the case, and the local flavour will therefore be diluted.
"The second option is to move to a weekly model - probably publishing on Thursdays - with a much bigger edition of around 96 pages at its core, plus commercial supplements and sections such as Post Property and Living magazine.
"The first option retains more editorial jobs than the weekly model, but will result in my view in a much weakened brand because the paper will represent less value for money for the reader, day-by-day.
"The weekly model will provide a much more comprehensive package of information, entertainment and advertising, and I believe will do more to preserve the brand values of the Post, and therefore offer a more sustainable future for the title. We think we will be able to retain most of the essential elements that exist in the current model and incorporate them in a weekly Post.
"For the weekly model, we are even forecasting a modest circulation increase, based on the recent experiences of daily papers that have gone weekly.
"Cards on the table? I believe the weekly model is the best option for the Post. There's a lot of emotion connected to the supposed status of being a daily paper and many of my contacts in the city regularly state baldly to me that 'Birmingham simply must have a daily business paper'. But at what cost? Increasingly, our diet of daily and immediate news is fed by online services and broadcast media, and newspapers have a much reduced role in bringing news we didn't hear first somewhere else. Papers are increasingly more about providing analysis, comment and insight.I believe that should be the role of the Post in print - to explain and examine the big decisions and issues in the region, while keeping readers up to date with the immediate through our website and other online services.
"A substantial, value-for-money weekly package is surely the best home for this, where the very best elements of the Post's coverage can be found all in one place.
"That's my view anyway. There will be many others that take a very different position, I'm sure, and I genuinely want to hear as many views on this as possible."


Outraged! said...

shocking to favour an option which kills more jobs!

Anonymous said...

sell out