Regional publisher Johnston Press has today ruled out taking any more of its daily titles weekly as part of the current relaunch of its portfolio.
Earlier this week, the company announced that the Halifax Courier, Scarborough Evening News, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Northants Evening Telegraph and Peterborough Evening Telegraph would all move to weekly publication next month.
But today JP chief executive Ashley Highfield moved to quell speculation that the move could be extended to some of its other daily titles.
In a statement issued to HTFP this morning, the company made clear that the current relaunch – which will continue at least until the end of 2012 – will not include any further frequency changes.
It stated: “Five Johnston Press daily titles moving to printing weekly from the end of May will be the only publications to change frequency in the foreseeable future.
“A relaunch of the company’s 170 paid-for titles – announced earlier this week by chief executive officer Ashley Highfield – does not involve converting any other daily newspapers into weeklies.”
Said Ashley: “We are continually reviewing our position and responding to changing audience demands, and while we can never say never, we have no plans for any more ‘daily to weekly’ changes.
“The relaunch is about combining fresh designs, improved editorial practices and the best in digital technology to make our news more current and enable greater engagement with both our readers and advertisers.”
The five dailies switching to weekly are among 15 titles whose print and online platforms are being redesigned in the initial phase of the relaunch – the other ten being existing weeklies.
A net reduction of up to 50 editorial jobs is expected as a result of the frequency changes, with some additional posts being created in addition to those being lost.
Said Ashley: “These publications have a long and proud tradition of serving their local communities and the relaunch plans provided the opportunity to review the needs of each market to ensure this success continues.
“Combining a weekly newspaper with daily online publishing meets changing demands and allows each of these five titles to maintain their roles as trusted platforms for audiences to access and share information.”
The company said the relaunch of all 170 paid-for titles – excluding only The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, The Yorkshire Post and The News Letter (Belfast) – will bring improved designs and introduce new editorial workflows.
A leading international design company has been engaged to provide the new designs, and a professionally directed local marketing campaign will support the relaunch of each title.