Thursday 30 September 2010

Local newspaper launches in UK outstrip closures

Here's a reason to be cheerful about the future of print. According to the October issue of Press Gazette, more local newspapers have launched in the UK this year than folded.

PG says, according to the Newspaper Society, so far in 2010 there have been six closures against 16 new launches, which is a happy antidote to the gloomy forecast by media analyst Claire Enders, who told MPs in 2009 that up to half of the UK's 1,300 regional newspapers were set to close.

I've written a feature in the current issue of PG looking at how the new launches are getting on. In Birmingham it's a tough battle with Chris Bullivant relishing taking on Trinity with the Birmingham Press and Birmingham Free Press. He admits that the titles are yet to make money but believes he has come up with the right business model for the future of the regionals.

I also look at the new launches by Archant, including Cambridge First and the Scene titles. They have a bright new look, are described by the company as "newszines" and are published across lots of different platforms and a variety of ways to market.

Tindle Newspapers, led by its formidable founder Sir Ray Tindle, has launched a series of community newspapers in London this year and promises more to come across the group.

The independent Southport-based Champion Media Group has launched the Crosby and Litherland Champion. Chief executive Betty Drummond told me: "People like us are in newspapers because we love newspapers."

The last few years have been a terrible time for regional newspapers and the many regional journalists who have lost their jobs, but I finished the feature thinking at least there are people out there who still love launching papers, even in the teeth of a recession, and are out to prove the gloomy analysts wrong.
  • The Independent has an article today Local Heroes by Ian Burrell saying regional newspapers will not be drafting their own obits just yet due to a recent boost in their fortunes.


LauraO said...

Hi Jon,

I haven't yet read the PG print piece, but would be interesting to know how the figures are totted up e.g. with the Harlow Scene launch used as an illustration, two titles were closed to launch this new magazine.

Jon Slattery said...

Dear Laura,

I didn't do the figures on launches and closures but according to PG they came from the Newspaper Society.

I interviewed those who have launched titles this year.

It is difficult to be exact but the picture is looking far better than last year (60 closures) and nowhere as bad as predicted by some media analysts.

Sadly, regional journalists are still suffering from job cuts and cost cutting.