1 September 2014

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Two more newspapers close as pre-Christmas gloom continues

Two more free weekly newspapers have printed their final editions this week as the bout of pre-Christmas industry gloom continues.

The Northcliffe Media-owned Bridgwater and Burnham Times has closed down after 12 years, carrying a report of its own demise on its final front page yesterday.

Also ceasing publication this week is Trinity Mirror’s Darlington and South Durham Herald and Post whose last edition went to press on Monday, bringing the number of newspaper closures in the past fortnight to eight.

Three West Midlands titles were closed by Trinity Mirror last week, while Iliffe News and Media’s Your Leek Paper has also ceased publication after being merged with the Leek Post and Times.

In addition Trinity Mirror announced the effective closure of two more free titles as part of its announcement yesterday that the Liverpool Daily Post is to go weekly.

The Bootle Times, Maghull and Aintree Star and Anfield and West Derby Star are to be merged into a single title, The Star, and in future will only be available within the Tuesday edition of the Liverpool Echo.

The news of the Bridgwater and Burnham Times’ closure was announced in a front page story in yesterday’s final edition.

Philip Welch, editor of Mid Somerset News and Media, said: “The economics of producing free newspapers have become more challenging in recent years. We reached this decision with sadness but we are looking at new ways to serve the people of Bridgwater, Burnham and Highbridge.

“Our plans for the future are to further strengthen and invest in our highly successful Mid Somerset Series of paid-for newspapers and to expand our portfolio of other publications and events.

“We will be making an announcement in the New Year with a number of exciting initiatives. Meanwhile may I thank our readers and advertisers for their interest and support.”

The Wells based paper was created following the merger of the former Bridgwater Times and Burnham and Higham Times, with separate editions for Burnham and Bridgwater.

In the last round of ABC figures the Bridgwater and Burnham Times had a circulation of 28,929.

The closure of the Darlington and South Durham Herald and Post,  which had a circulation of 48,315, is being put down to falling advertising income.

Trinity Mirror said there would be no editorial or advertising jobs lost as a result, but is in a period of consultation with a small number of affected staff in other departments.

Regional managing director Bob Cuffe said: “Trading conditions in 2011 have been challenging and our revenues are lower than we had expected. In order to ensure we can build a sound base for 2012, further action is needed.

“Consequently, we are announcing a change to our portfolio which will improve our performance in the months ahead.”

12 Comments

  1. sonofgreycardigan, down table, proof reading

    And a Happy Christmas to you too.

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  2. Ex-journo trying to get into academia

    Maybe it’s time someone did a UK version of this US newspaper map, showing the launch dates — and closure dates — of very newspaper:
    http://www.stanford.edu/group/ruralwest/cgi-bin/drupal/visualizations/us_newspapers

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  3. badsanta, lapland

    Not just Trinity. Hundreds of shockingly-understaffed weeklies across the UK are hanging on by their finger-tips praying no-one leaves or gets ill. Just as well most of the readers don’t realise the real and very worrying scale of it ( apart from obvious drop in quality and coverage).
    Sorry to be gloomy. I shall disappear back up the chimney.
    But harsh reality is here in the recession on the shop floor away from the boardroom.
    Let’s hope we can keeping the papers afloat until the recovery, but don’t hold your breath on that one.

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  4. Hacks the way to do it

    Will the last person to leave the newspaper industry please turn out the lights?

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  5. CallMeCynical, UK

    Badsanta says he/she hopes we can keep the paper afloat until the recovery. That toally misses the point. Newspapers were in decline before the recession started. They will still be in decline (if any are left) once the recovery starts.
    John Meehan is right when he says the future is digital – why oh why haven’t newspapers embraced the opportunities the iPad (and similar tablets) offer. How many local papers have dedicated iPhone or iPad editions and the apps to support them? Ridiculously few it appears.
    Tablets and computer based editions could offer interactive advertising – giving the advertiser much more for his/her money. The Metro, for instance, has shown a good start.
    How many under 30s go out and buy a printed newspaper – national or local? They get their information online, almost exclusively.
    Wake up before it’s too late newspaper industry and the staff still clinging on to the life raft.

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  6. CallMeDigitallyCynical

    I’ll agree there needs to be a lot more serious thought given to a possible digital future for local newspapers, but tablets?

    How many readers of The Bootle Times, Maghull and Aintree Star do you think had an iPad? Certainly not enough to keep it afloat.
    The focus should not be on specific digital offerings for extremely specific platforms like the iPad, it should be on digital content accessible from most web-enabled devices.

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  7. GladImOutOfIt

    The under-30s have never bought their local newspaper. As young children they love them, but once they’re adults it’s not until they marry, have kids, settle down and begin to become part of the community – particularly once the kids are in school – that they begin to take an interest in anything but their own fun/navels.
    The demographic has always been older but the papers themselves have always panicked and believed there was a rising floor, so they have made idiots of themselves trying to appeal to teenagers. I think part of the trouble is that the staff are usually, with a few wise-headed exceptions in all departments, younger than their readers.
    I believe that the only way forward for the printed paper is in-depth reporting and good writing with good quality pix that people can actually see without a magnifying glass. The sort of stuff that gives background as well as info, but also the sort of stuff that you don’t concentrate on on a screen. The nationals do it with commentary, which is cheaper, but dangerous.
    Of course, this is expensive because it requires reporters who can write and have the time to investigate, so you need to retain older staff with good local knowledge and brains, which means paying them. It also requires more of them – and photographers.
    It won’t work in daily papers, that’s for sure. The internet has killed them. The future is almost certainly weekly. And of course it requires a sea-change in thinking at the top of management, where the bean-counters and feather-brained cheer-leaders are in control, so it’s unlikely to happen.
    Nevertheless, i would remind them: in the good times, when a paper was losing circulation, one of the complaints most often heard was “but there’s nothing to read in it”. Think on,

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  8. Hackattack

    This is only going to get worse expect another big announcement this afternoon

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  9. Duffo, South West

    These freebies were happy to take the ad revenue or to spoil a rival paper when the cash was flowing.
    Now there is no little profit for them they are off – a happy release for some.
    Recently one of my free local papers had one re-hashed story and a two-week old picture with caption. The rest of the sheet (careful) was great if you needed new double glazing.

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  10. Blustringer

    Oh cheers, thanks for that Hackattack.

    Another good-if-true story to add to the ever-growing collection.

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  11. Surface Agent X20, Watford

    GladImOutOfIt is absolutely correct. And as regards tablets, the only way they will succeed is if properly subbed and laid out pages, with proper stories on them, exist to be uploaded. That still requires staff. Not publishing on paper may well be the future but the pages still have to be produced. Tablets haven’t been embraced as fully as they should have been because those people competent enough to make them work have all been made redundant by the same aged execs who haven’t a clue what an iPad is capable of. Now we just have to wait for some of these big companies to put their hands up, admit they got it horribly wrong and start recruiting. No, I won’t hold my breath either.

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  12. arthur, cheshire

    Newspaper editors have never admitted that the best-read and cheapest-to-produce “editorial” pages are “Readers’ Letters”……only the professionals are able to write anything interesting. So, they were never going to get it right. And as for the donkeys in the boardrom….I rest my case.

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