A senior editorial executive on Britain’s biggest-selling regional daily has reaffirmed its commitment to daily print publishing.
In a live Q&A with readers to mark Local Newspaper Week, Express & Star executive editor Mark Drew put the paper’s success down to providing ‘the latest news, printed on the day.’
He said readers still ‘like the feel’ of a newspaper in their hands, and that he did not expect this to change in the next decade.
In a wide-ranging discussion via the CoverItLive platform, Mark also warned that the Leveson Inquiry could “stifle the spirit of local newspaper reporting.’
During the two-hour S&A Mark was asked about the impact of the internet and how the paper would look in ten years time.
He responded: “The internet is becoming a big part of our operation now. But the main focus of our operation each day is the printed newspaper and I think that will be the same 10 years from now.
“We remain the only local newspaper in the country to sell more than 100,000 copies of the paper. Many people like to have the feel of a paper in their hands and I do not think that will change.
“The internet has opened up some great opportunities – like this webchat today – and I think we will continue to explore how we can develop the internet without taking away our main focus on the printed form of the paper.
Asked whether there were any plans to take the paper weekly, Mark responded: “There are certainly no plans for that.
“The E&S is the most successful daily local newspaper in the country and that success is down to offering the very latest news, printed on the day.
“Some newspapers elsewhere have gone weekly because it has been decided that they can be more profitable. The Bath Chronicle, for example, has been weekly for many years after serving the city as a daily for decades. The Bristol Evening Post recently decided that it would lose its Saturday edition and is now printed five days a week.
“But it is vital for an area as big as the Black Country, Staffordshire and Worcestershire to have a daily newspaper, six days a week, and there is no reason to doubt that that will ever change.”
On Leveson, Mark said in the inquiry raised many questions about the future of newspapers and the way they are regulated.
But he added: “The issues that are being raised, such as as phone hacking and the relationship between journalists and the police, are ones that effect national newspapers.
“Local newspapers such as the Express & Star pride themselves on their integrity. The issue of phone hacking is not one that we have ever been affected by. We have good relationships with all kinds of contacts, but they are purely on a professional basis.
“The Leveson Inquiry is likely to come up with a ‘beefed up’ way to regulate the press. The concern of local newspapers is that, while monitoring the national press, it will be too stringent and could stifle the spirit of local newspaper reporting.”
- The Portsmouth News also featured a live Q&A yesterday, focusing mainly on how the paper is put together.
Deputy editor Mark Acheson said: ‘It was a great success and really worthwhile. The team here got into the spirit and helped paint a great picture of a day in the life of The News.”