29 November 2014

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Jobs to go as Northcliffe daily switches to weekly

South West daily the Torquay Herald Express is to convert to a weekly title next month with the loss of around half of the current 32 editorial jobs.

In what is likely to be the first of several frequency changes announced by the regional publisher, the 86-year-old title will go from one of the country’s smallest dailies to one of its biggest weeklies overnight.

The last daily edition of the Herald Express will be published on Friday 15 July, with the first weekly edition hitting the streets on Thursday 21 July.

Today’s announcement follows a wide-ranging portfolio review announced by Northcliffe managing director Steve Auckland shortly after he took up the role in March.

Said Steve:  “The move to weekly for The Herald Express is part of our strategy to respond to the market and improve the long-term performance of the business.

“The new improved paper will provide the best possible product for readers in this area while offering a more valuable proposition in terms of advertising revenue.

“The Herald Express has a fantastic heritage. We will build on that to give readers in the South Devon area a must read with unrivalled news coverage from the area.

“The early drafts look great – it really is a meaty product.”

Herald Express editor Andy Phelan added:  “The Herald Express has been one of the country’s best-performing daily titles for many years in terms of its circulation figures. Our readers and advertisers have been tremendously loyal and we value them highly.

“The Herald Express has evolved over the years and this is another step on that journey.

“By moving to weekly publishing we believe we will be moving more closely in line with the needs of our readers and advertisers.

“We also believe that in a changing market environment, this is the best way to secure the long-term future of a strong, independent news organisation serving Torbay and South Devon.”

The company is not putting a figure on the number of job losses arising from the changeover, pending a formal consultation period with staff which began today.

However HTFP understands that around half of the 32 editorial posts at the title will go, although discussions on the exact number are continuing.

The Herald Express was founded in 1925 and currently has an average daily circulation of 21,112 according to the most recent ABC figures.

Northcliffe said the aim was produce a 100-page plus weekly paper in addition to supplements, offering readers what it called “a more substantial and quality read.”

In addition to the weekly print edition, daily news updates will be carried on the www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk website, where the Herald Express will continue to have a dedicated news channel.

The  switch from daily to weekly has already been successfully pioneered by the Bath Chronicle, also owned by Northcliffe, which made the change in 2007.

13 Comments

  1. Diesel74, Coventry

    I can’t believe the editor and chief hatchett man are trying to pass this off as good news. Quote: “The Herald Express has been one of the country’s best-performing daily titles for many years in terms of its circulation figures. Our readers and advertisers have been tremendously loyal and we value them highly.”
    So why change it then? Another great decision by the media magnates killing newspapers.
    “A must read…unrivalled news” – isn’t that what newspapers should be about anyway? And Scribbler has it right, IMHO. Will it turn out to be about more cuts?

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  2. how inspiring

    To meet the challenge of the internet, which can publish news instantly….this move is to make the news even less frequent in print! What a ridiculous idea, almost as bad as giving away the entire newspaper for free on company websites.

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  3. Goldfinch, Sky

    I’d be very worried if I was working at the other Northcliffe dailies with circulations lower than this…

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  4. JC Smith, London

    They are talking about slashing about half the workforrce I believe – which is naive as the production of a weekly newspaper is heavily labour intensive. But sadly the slash and burn methods of Northcliffe are very blinkered and after four years of cock ups and also mistakes that saw an edition of the Herald go out without a front page headline it seems that they have not learnt from their mistakes – shame…

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  5. jameson jouster, essex

    I6 of 32 editorial jobs will go. In the late 90s, the HE was making a vulnerable profit of £336,000. Within seven years, it was making profits of circa £1.7m on a turnover of £8m on daily sales averaging 26,500 with an editorial FTE of 43. One of its strongest publishing days was Saturday after changes to the product.

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  6. Wrighty, Selby

    “This is the best way to secure the long-term future of a strong, independent news organisation serving Torbay and South Devon.”

    How can a newspaper be independent when it’s owned by a conglomerate like Northcliffe?

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  7. Torquay Tom, SW

    16 of 32 editorial jobs to go

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  8. Steve Hutchings, Exeter.

    Sadly, for anyone who is familiar with the Herald Express, this should come as no surprise. Although the paper has benefited from a laudable news team headed by Jim Parker – a thorough and well respected local journalist – it has suffered under the burden of a succession of bad editors who have been more concerned with promoting themselves than their staff or the newspa[per they have been appointed to serve. In recent years the design of the news pages has been dire and, as the food industry discovered decades ago, packaging makes a difference to the perception of the content. When you combine bad design with bad leadership the outcome is almost inevitable.

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  9. Hacked off

    The MD might be using a strange cryptography decipherable only by other senior newspaper executives (precis: a bad thing = a good thing) but at least he IS talking about his decision.

    Unlike certain others of the regional publishing parish.

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  10. Fred

    I imagine Northcliffe has a pretty good idea how many staff are needed to run a weekly paper, they publish quite a few already.
    It’s pretty clear the days of publishing a 20,000 circulation newspaper six days a week are numbered, faced with rising distribution and newsprint costs.

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  11. Helen, Exeter

    Let’s face it with a cover price of 40p – that’s £2.40 a week and people just won’t pay that money every day in these hard times.
    Better a weekly with a decent circulation, and good pagination and content.

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  12. Observer, Essex

    Lincoln and Scunthorpe next on the list? Both sell below 20,000 a day.

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  13. davy gravy, Torquay

    I think the future for local news generally is once a week in print, backed up by internet updates as and when. There are economic imperatives, but also, in the digital age when you can get news from your Facebook friends (for instance) from the other side of the world instantly, how much appetite is there for the humdrum stuff from down the road that fills most local newspapers? Not enough of an appetite for every day of the week I suspect, but once a week you can imagine people wanting to find out what’s going on. This will be the first of many, although the MD is a bit disingenuous banging on about “the early drafts look great” etc. I’m sure they do but in the meantime half his editorial staff will be losing their jobs….

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