22 August 2014

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Readers launch Facebook campaign to save doomed title

Newspaper readers in Kent have launched a Facebook campaign to resurrect a local weekly newspaper that has been closed by Northcliffe Media.

The company axed the East Kent Gazette and Medway News following its failed bid to sell seven titles in its Kent Regional News and Media subsidiary to the KM Group following an intervention from the Office of Fair Trading.

The titles will go to press for the last time this week with a special souvenir edition.

Now readers have started what staff at the EKG have called a ‘fantastic’ campaign on Facebook to save the paid-for title by bringing it into community ownership.  The company has said it will consider the idea if it supported by a business plan and has evidence of funding.

The campaign is being spearheaded by Dave Wood from Sittingbourne, an area covered by the Gazette. He said that in a phone call with Northcliffe bosses it was suggested to him that a group of like-minded locals could get together and run the paper.

The group would need to find premises, local business contacts and ‘enough public spirit to serve the community.’

Editorial staff at the Gazette updated the newspaper’s Facebook page on Sunday to say that a meeting had been held with Northcliffe on Friday to discuss the Save the East Kent Gazette campaign.

It said: “Northcliffe is willing to meet with members of the community to discuss possible community ownership of the paper but only if a group comes up with a business plan and evidence of funding.

“All the staff here are genuinely overwhelmed by the support we’re receiving from our readers, on Facebook and via letters, phone calls and in person.

“You’re all wonderful people and imagine how fantastic it would be if this idea worked.”

Richard Karn, the company’s managing director in the South East, added: “We will consider all proposals from the community that are supported by a business plan and have evidence of funding.”

The newspaper has also reached its target of getting 1,000 people to like its Facebook page in a show of support for the paper.  

A consultation with staff  affected by the paper’s demise is currently under way.

Added Mr Wood: said: “All we need at the moment is a group of us who could talk to Northcliffe to explore this plan.”

6 Comments

  1. Jeff, planet earth

    Don’t they realise it’s the twitterati wot holds the power?

    Report this comment

  2. Dan Depan

    If only these keyboard warriors had bought a copy of the papers instead of emailing, cut and pasting and twittering its contents for free then they would have survived.
    Or is this finally recognition – far too late – that a free press isn’t one that you don’t have to pay for but rather one in which journalists attempt to present balalncedstories for appropriate remuneration?

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  3. Jim

    Print is dead. If you started a newspaper today, you wouldn’t print it but put it online. Problem is the business model doesn’t quite work and no-one has worked out how to do it. Bosses need to find a long-term solution otherwise we’re all screwed.

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  4. Blustringer

    I really hope this works but I would guess the stumbling block as always will be money. The community backers will need to get venture capital to leverage a buy-out like that. And for that you need to demonstrate expertise and a ruthless business plan.

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  5. Rob G, Sittingbourne

    In answer to Dan Depan – I live in Sittingbourne and am an avid East Kent Gazette Reader as are many in the area It is a well loved newspaper and will be a great loss to the community. It is not a free paper, the cover price is 50p and I object to his derogatory comments concerning the Facebook campaign supporters (of which I am one).

    Report this comment

  6. Dan Depan

    Hi Rob G.
    I know it wasn’t a free paper – read my reply again and you’ll see the attack is on those who RATHER THAN BUY the paper expect it to be put on the web or distributed by other electronic media for free.
    Had more paid to buy the paper it would have survived.
    Print is not dead, unfortunately the execs believe the IT dweebs who say otehrwise but have no answer to how to make electronic publishing pay (slash the salaries of IT people perhaps)

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