A weekly newspaper first published in 1862 is to get a 45p price hike this week as part of a major relaunch.
The Oxford Times is raising its cover price from 85p to £1.30 tomorrow as it marks its 150th anniversary.
First published on 6 September 1862 as the Oxford Times and Midland Counties Advertiser, its first broadsheet front page told of riots in Naples and the latest battle in the American civil war alongside the appearance of zebras, leopard and panthers at St Giles’ Fair.
Now it is to get a wholesale makeoever aimed at modernising its appearance following a series reader focus groups this summer.
The changes will see the Weekend section become a pull out while new writers and columnists will aim to add “breadth and depth” to the paper’s coverage.
This week’s edition will also feature a 28-page supplement to mark the anniversary.
Writing in last week’s edition, group editor Simon O’Neill said: “Five monarchs, two world wars and countless governments have come and gone, but The Oxford Times is still here, in rude health and facing up to the challenges confronting the media in the 21st century.
“Despite what the doom mongers say, print is not dead and The Oxford Times will survive and flourish in the digital age. But it must change with the times and face up to some tough realities.
“That is why, from this week, you will notice some significant changes to your local newspaper as we celebrate our landmark anniversary.
“These follow a series of focus groups with readers which took place in June. Their views were fed into a major overhaul of the paper aimed at making it easier to read, providing more news and information and modernising the look, without sacrificing the identity that so many readers hold dear.”
“Finally, and no doubt most controversially, we are increasing the price of The Oxford Times to £1.30 with effect from this week.
“This is a recognition of the fact that many of the advertising sectors which effectively subsidised quality local journalism are receding and if we want to maintain our high standards and provide coverage which is high quality and comprehensive, then we must charge a fair price.”
The Times’ circulation fell by 12pc in the period January – June 2012 compared with the previous year.
According to the most recent ABC figures published last week, its current average weekly sale is 14,749.