27 November 2014

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East Midlands town set for newspaper circulation battle

A circulation war is in prospect in a Northamptonshire town with three local newspapers all competing for readers.

The past month has seen the launch of the Corby Extra as a fortnightly publication in the town, together with the decision by Johnston Press to take the Northants Evening Telegraph weekly.

Now a third contender is set to enter the ring in the town in the shape of The Corby Eye, whose founders say they want to focus on ‘good news’ about the town.

The Eye is being launched by friends Kevin Sheen and Joe O’Neill who say they have grown tired of the ‘bad press’ the town sometimes receives.

Kevin quit his job as an events manager at The Chartered Management Institution and Joe O’Neill left his sales job at a recruitment company to concentrate on the monthly free title which has a print run of 4,000 and is funded through advertising.

The pair who have no formal journalism training claim it is the only ‘true’ Corby paper, despite the recent launch of the Corby Extra by Extra Newspapers earlier this month.

Said Kevin: “Joe and I are Corby born and bred and had grown weary of the seemingly endless bad press Corby had been receiving both locally and nationally and decided a true portrait of the town needed to be both painted and printed.

“The Eye, as it is fast becoming known, is by Corby and about Corby and its borough.  It is printed in Corby; it promotes Corby; it, hopefully, inspires Corby and, above all, it recognises the good in the people of Corby.

He added: “It contains nothing but good news and positive stories, it acknowledges unsung heroes and endeavours to promote the fantastic, but sometimes unrecognised, good work that the police, the council and all the local charities do in and around the borough.”

Added Kevin: “It is praise indeed to us that other publications have jumped on our ‘good news, community based newspaper’ idea and we welcome anything and everything that promotes Corby.”

The newspaper is also available as an online publication.

23 Comments

  1. Marcus

    The Eye is interesting … not least because it maybe proves that newspaper design isn’t all that important!!! But what we have is a locally-focused news publication with local adverts, a model which appears to work. Is this not the great hope for journalism and journalists.

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  2. Mickf, Cambs

    In the present climate this is a crazy venture which harks back to the worst of mid 1980s freesheets. I give it 3 months at best before it disappears without a trace.

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  3. cb

    Good on them – let battle commence!

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  4. Aman

    I’m sorry, but have you seen Extra?
    It’s mainly rewritten press releases, full of “positive” news and a lot of generic filler stuff. It’s also very thin.

    And The Eye sounds like it’s going to be very similar to Extra but free, so it will clearly put Extra out of business in the town.

    Competition at this level is not necessarily a good thing. And it can be very harmful for journalism.

    There simply isn’t room for all of them in a town like Corby.

    The only paper doing ‘real’ news will inevitably get hurt – it’ll lose readers and ad revenue, more jobs may have to go, and the community becomes even more poorly served due to fewer journalists.

    My own paper lost 1,000 readers overnight when a “positive news only” free launched. It folded four months later and all it achieved was damaging profits enough so we lost an ad rep and part-time reporter, and several hundred people stopped buying their local paper.

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  5. Curious

    A ‘paper’ through rose-tinted specs? Airbrushing history… sweeping the real warts ‘n all life of a town under the carpet. It makes me feel nauseous just thinking about it. And what’s the point?

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  6. Corporal Clegg

    These people aren’t journalists. However, if they start employing journalists, good luck to them.

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  7. John Bull

    @Marcus – a failure to insist on good design and good content has helped turn readers away from once-strong newspapers. Newspaper design being not important is not likely to be viewed as a great hope for journalism and journalists.
    @Mickf – maybe you’re right. Good news is often not the good seller people, including daily newspaper editors, say it is.
    But I tend to agree with cb. A lack of competition has, in my view, allowed the newspaper moguls to cut back and preside over the slow death of the industry. Let’s have more competition and win readers back.

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  8. Erico

    This is just crazy. The economy of Corby isn’t big enough to support three newspapers – why don’t these companies do their research before jumping in? There are not enough advertisers or buyers. Before launching a product into a market, ensure you have a business plan that involves the market being big enough to sustain your product. Look at the big supermarkets – they don’t just build anywhere – they plan developments where there’s a gap in the market.

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  9. Rupert Bear

    Only one comment fits (apologies if someone else used it on this site recently).

    It is attributed to Lord Northcliffe.

    ‘News is what someone does not want you to report. Everything else is advertising.’

    Clearly, there is room for positive news, and campaigns instigated by pukka paid-for local newspapers to boost their localities are, in general, acceptable.

    On the other hand, the prospects for investigative journalism look increasingly bleak.

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  10. Cherrywonder

    There was a fella round here tried something similar to The Eye a couple of years ago.
    An ex-sales rep who also found the traditional newspaper approach of reporting crime, court, council, etc to be rather tiresome.
    He launched in a blaze of grandiose bragging claiming to be the True Voice of Trumpton which will soon put all us doom-mongers on the dole.
    Lasted three months.
    Ho-hum.

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  11. Ill-informed

    I very much agree with Aman’s view.

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  12. Ex hack

    I thought this sounded interesting re hyperlocal … would be good to find out more.
    http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2012/news/dyson-joins-hyperlocal-pioneer-in-workshop-venture/

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  13. Joe, Oop North

    I worked for the Evening Telegraph in Corby for a couple of years a while back. There were five of us covering the town full-time. The bad – and good – guys couldn’t talk too loudly in the library without us writing a page lead on it. I hope this community Pravda dies quickly and the ET continues telling the local community how it really is – all be it weekly rather than daily.

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  14. regionalhack

    Ashley Highfield’s decision to turn some Johnston Press dailies into weeklies clearly leaves the door wide open for local competition in these towns. While the editorial content may be questionable in the new start-ups, more important to JP is the loss of advertising revenue, and JP has £350million of debt to pay off. Weeklies and websites will not cover this, particularly if competition nibbles away at advertising. Maintaining the dailies and print revenue, where ever possible, for as long as possible (and remember all JP papers are profitable, making an average of 20% profit margin according to Highfield) may have been the better option.

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  15. Bob from Burnley

    Good news will, I’m afraid, turn out to be bad news for the publishers of the Corby Eye.
    This formula has been tried a hundred thousand times before, and there is not a single occasion when it’s turned out to be a winner.
    Readers don’t want carefully coiffed ‘good’ news. They want the truth, no matter how bad it turns out to be.
    Here we have a couple of amateurs full of idealistic crap.
    Stand back as they nosedive into the ground.

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  16. James, Carlisle

    I’d be interested to know how exactly the ‘writers’ of the Eye plan to decide what qualifies as good news and bad news. And what happens when a story is good news for one person but bad for another?

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  17. Anna, Carlisle

    This is definitely a bad news story!

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  18. El Weasel

    AMan – “The only paper doing real news?” Just out of interest, how many reporters actually live on patch now?

    If more than one person actually did, they’d realise the shocking name the paper has within the town. It’s not about telling the news with rose-tinted specs, it’s simply about telling the news correctly.

    It’s simple to criticise papers for re-hashing positive PR. How much locally-produced news is simply that – positive or negative re-hashes of corporate PR.

    Do a story count and see what’s generated off-diary, through contacts and incoming PR. I dare you.

    So, erm, how does this relate to Corby. Extra and the ET do the same thing. In a same style. With a similar ethos. I wonder what the common link is?

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  19. furryoldgreybadger

    ‘A circulation war’ Don’t make me laugh. You need to be of a certain age to know what circulation wars were really like!

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  20. KellyC

    Have you seen this ‘newspaper’? It is a complete joke, as are the two jokers who are ‘writing’ it. It looks as though it is sponsored by McDonald’s, which doesn’t exactly bode well.

    It’s even worse than Extra, which is at least produced with some modicum of professionalism.

    The ET is not exactly quaking in its boots.

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  21. Aman

    El Weasel – I have no idea how many reporters live on patch or it’s reputation locally. I’m not from there.
    But if the paper had that bad a reputation it wouldn’t sell any copies, let alone the several thousand it does.

    All I know is it is at least trying to report news. As in stuff that’s happened. Look at its homepage (for Corby):
    Appeal for witnesses to robbery in Corby
    Troubled pub is set to re-open
    Charity manager stole from shop
    Man jailed for attack on shop worker
    Elderly driver hit car at 50mph.

    These aren’t the fluffy nonsense or press releases that Extra carries.
    These are not PR initiated content.
    There’s other stuff on there too, human interest and yes, probably some stories which started life as press releases.

    As for my paper, nearly every single lead is off diary. Very little is comes from press releases. And even those that do get chased up, checked out, quotes added and built up.
    You know, journalism…

    Last week my paper had just one page lead which started life as a press release. All the rest come from people coming to us, court stories, obits, crime, searching through agendas, online alerts, old fashioned digging.

    Press releases have their place, but if you honestly believe that rehashing them is all the local press does then you have very little insight into this industry.

    I cannot understand any journalist who doesn’t get annoyed by papers like Extra and Eye that only produce positive stuff and rehashed PR nonsense.

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  22. Old Ed, Middle Earth

    A newspaper without journalists. Whatever next? Sssh. Don’t shout too loud about that, Ashley Highfield seems to be trialing the route right now.
    Whilst I admire your determination to highlight the good points of the town, you’re totally going to ignore what people really want to know about? What happened in the car crash, how many job losses after the factory blaze? You can’t ignore it because it’s bad news. It happens. Daily (or weekly).
    Good luck to you for having a go but please remove the rose tinted spectacles. The world may well be all nice and shiny in events management and recruiting, the truth is a little different.

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  23. Kevin Sheen, Corby

    Nice to see The Corby Eye has sparked such a discussion. One or two points to clarify though; We released Issue 1 in Feb – before The Corby Extra. There was only one other paper in the town at the time (The ET).We do not compete with them as we are very different in everything we do. The content, the release schedule, the layout…..the accuracy of reporting.

    Mickf – See above plus; we have funding in place till August and beyond so no, we won’t ‘disappear without a trace’. Sorry.

    Aman – We are nothing like The Extra. Everything we do is about The Corby Borough. We use Corby printers (thus increasing their revenue); we increase footfall for our distributors; we actively promote Police Support (benefits there are immeasurable); we promote fundraisers, charities, events, specials et al which, in turn, benefits people and causes across the borough.

    Curious – No rose tinted glasses here. We know the town has its faults….like any other town. We just promote the good points whilst offering advice on some of the bad. “What’s the point”? Perhaps if you had the same pride in your town (you don’t state where you’re from) perhaps you’d understand.

    Erico – Research was done. (See opening statement and issue 1). Perhaps do yours before you comment?

    Cherrywonder – 3 months now passed and still here. Ho Hum. In it for the long haul. Sponsors in place, plans in place, you in your place.

    Joe Oop North – As an ex ET Reporter you may be part of the reason we started The Corby Eye. Thankyou.

    Bob from Burnley – No news ‘coiffed’ here. Only Goodnews reported accurately. Here we have a couple of amateurs full of pride in their town without even a hint of a nosedive.

    KellyC – Touched a nerve have we?

    Old Ed. Middle Earth – Yay! Someone who speaks sense. And so do we. No rose tinted glasses here. When we report the job losses we add the ‘positive’ by reporting on the support available and the new vacancies made through new companies coming into the town. If the story is about drug busts and addictions, we report on the success of the bust and add where people can go for advice on how to kick the habit.

    All – before you knock it; understand it. The positive comments we get from our readers (of which there are now, using industry average calculations used by other local publications, in excess of 16,500), far outway those above. Contact details on our website. Thank you for taking an interest in The Corby Eye.

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