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High level praise for relaunched Johnston Press titles

A weekly newspaper which converted from broadsheet to tabloid as part of a major relaunch has won praise from a senior government minister.

Against the backdrop of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude drew a contrast between “trusted” local newspapers and their “negative” national counterparts.

Horsham MP Mr Maude was writing in the West Sussex County Times the week after it changed format as part of the group-wide relaunch of paid-for titles by owner Johnston Press.

The Tory politician praised the newspaper for “moving with the times” and welcomed the format switch as the “latest step in its evolution.”

Said Mr Maude: “As I write this, the Leveson Inquiry continues and the contrast between national and local press is highlighted more than ever – people trust local and regional press so much more than national papers.

“The County Times holds such a special place in our community because we trust it.  We trust it to report on all local stories – both good and bad – unlike the national press which seems so often to focus on the bad and the negative.

“It isn’t that the County Times avoids difficult and controversial issues of local importance.  However it gives equal prominence to stories of individuals, schools and businesses excelling, doing their bit for charity or going the extra mile – whatever it might be.

“The County Times has always moved with the times. The website is a fantastic local resource and the paper grabbed the opportunity to use it to feature video reports and interviews. Moving to compact form is just the latest step in its evolution – which, happily, will ensure it stays at the heart of our community.”

The paper also won plaudits from legendary Radio 2 presenter ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton who sent his congratulations to the paper and described the new look as “great”.

Another broadsheet-turned-compact, the Bucks Herald, was praised by ITN journalist Paul Davies who said:  “Loving the new look and design. Sport looks great.”

Johnston Press said other titles in the first phase of the relaunch have received hundreds of similarly glowing tributes from readers.

So far the relaunch programme has seen five daily titles switching to weekly, eight broadsheets going compact, three North-East freesheets going paid-for and six East Midlands weeklies given a radical redesign.


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  • June 11, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Diddy David Hamilton and now Francis Maude. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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  • June 11, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Not sure whether Mr Highfield is aware of the hundreds of not so glowing tributes from readers.

    It’s symptomatic of rushing the whole thing in far too quickly and forcing journalists/editors to work with inflexible templates – which remains a totally unacceptable requirement.

    The designs, in most cases, look very good, but the word on many streets is that the content has suffered so far and that was always the biggest danger.

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  • June 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Feedback has all been positive.
    Everyone is happy and that’s all we need to know.
    There are no dissenting voices.
    Long live the CEO.

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  • June 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

    The new Peterborough Telegraph is a much better product than the daily it replaces. It was 132 pages, so feels good value for £1 and the design is much cleaner and story count better than the daily, which often over sensationalised stories because it needed six leads a week.

    My only concern was that the circulation area has not shrunk. It still covers a geographic patch from Bourne to Huntingdon and Stamford to March and Wisbech. That seems too big and perhaps they should take a lesson from the Lincolnshire Echo and regionalise.

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  • June 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Eric makes a good point. Bourne, Huntingdon, Stamofrd, et al – they’re all already served by weekly paid-fors so the Peterborough Telegraph would be better served concentrating on its core patch. It would be a more sensible use of resources and work better for both readers and advertisers.

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