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Regional daily adopts magazine style front page in revamp

A leading regional daily has taken the step of adopting a magazine-style front page in a radical relaunch that will see more emphasis on lifestyle content.

The Bristol Post unveiled its new look yesterday, with front page headlines replaced by a picture-led format.

In a message to readers, editor Mike Norton says the paper will now put more emphasis on lifestyle content, and will also aim to highlight positive news about the city.

In a separate development, freelance contributors have been told the paper will stop paying for reviews from next week.

Yesterday's new-look front page from the Bristol Post

Mike says in his email:  “The paper has a brand new look. It’s bright, modern and aimed more at celebrating the city and the success of its people than accentuating what is negative about Bristol.

“As well as news and sport, there is much more lifestyle content designed to give readers indispensable, trusted advice on what to do with their time and money.

“No matter how much people think they know Bristol, the new Bristol Post strives to find new things for them to do, food for them to eat and places for them to visit, while providing expert insight in to shops, shows, products and performances

“Everything we are doing is geared towards making the Bristol Post a better proposition for our readers. Thank you for your support in recent times. I hope you continue to enjoy the paper for years to come.”

A separate email was sent on the same day to freelance contributors by features editor Tim Davey, saying the paper would no longer pay for reviews from 1 October.

“We will still continue to send out invites to review and, as normal, you will receive two tickets to attend the event,” he added.

37 comments

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  • September 25, 2013 at 1:25 pm
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    Oh, dear. Someone has let the work experience graphic artist loose on the front page. What a mess

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  • September 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm
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    Sigh! It WAS such a good paper once.
    Mind you, what are these missing Beach Boys tracks? Any lost Brian Wilson gems?

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  • September 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm
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    But what happens when there’s a murder??

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  • September 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm
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    Call it lifestyle, call it news, call it modern, call it traditional, call it what you like. The bottom line is it has to be relevant to the residents. (I know, this is stating the bleeding obvious).
    What I don’t understand though, is what happens when a big “negative” story breaks out? Will the editor then continues to splash photos of teenage girls in shorts or would he have the “b***s” to revert to real journalism?

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  • September 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm
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    I was going to say: “If you’re going to do a design led front page, you’d have thought they could have given the page designers more than five minutes on it.”,
    But on reflection I don’t even think they had five minutes. Thirty seconds max.

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  • September 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm
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    Picture led eh! Pity they got rid of most of their staff photogs.

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  • September 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm
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    newspapers should carry content which is either directly relevant to a large group of readers (steep council tax/train fare rises for instance) or of interest to a large group of readers. A girls’ footie team’s success is neither. Sorry – but news sense has gone out the window here.
    I do applaud, however, the attempt to find positive things to write about. Too many local papers rely on bog standard crime – often inflated into sensationalist copy – and consequently paint a far too bleak picture of the communities which they serve.
    But I fear this approach is doomed and, like other commentators here, think the design is pants. Neither fish nor fowl. Just foul.
    The circulation figures will be, erm, interesting…

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  • September 25, 2013 at 5:44 pm
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    The Bristol Post is no longer published daily. Since closing its Saturday edition in 2012, it only appears Mon-Fri.

    Surely life, and therefore also news, are a complex mix of negative and positive. While it may be possible for the paper to celebrate success and achievements, this should not be at the expense of balanced coverage of gritty hard news and setbacks. In any case, there is no such Martyn Lewis-esque thing as objectively ‘good’ or ‘bad’ news.

    As for the outrageous, patronising expectation that freelance reviewers should work for nothing (and indeed effectively pay to work, given the cost of computers, electricity, travel to concerts etc), hopefully this will be treated with the derision it warrants, prompting a mutiny by freelance critics. Or they could decide to no longer pay for a copy of the Post, and just take a copy from a shop. Same difference.

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  • September 25, 2013 at 7:59 pm
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    For goodness sake. Whatever happened to the concept news sells papers? Design? Crucial. Bright front pages? Duuhh? Gender and age balance? Oh yes. But this? A complete and utter joke.
    Take a gamble with papers by all means, but how about putting the emphasis on stories which really impact on people’s lives…

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  • September 25, 2013 at 11:19 pm
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    Seem to remember being told about a similar experiment being tried in Brighton – all lifestyle and no more moans from old people.
    Think the editor lasted about two months, if that.
    Somebody tell this lot and our friend from the Macclesfield “clever people” paper please.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 7:40 am
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    I like it!!

    We have got to try different things, so hats off to the Bristol team for doing just that.

    I’m sure if there’s a murder in Bristol, or a negative story dominates the news agenda, it will be properly featured on the front and then told in full on the inside.
    But papers have got to reflect people’s lives – and if the majority of readers in Bristol are happy with their lot and enjoy living in that part of the world, the paper should reflect that.

    Lots of traditionalists commenting on this story should just remember – the decline in revenues and circulation figures means papers which stand still (or do things the ‘old way’ when there was no internet to contend with) will just disappear without trace.

    So put up a fight, try something different – for some titles that will involve going weekly. For others, like Bristol, it’s about changing the emphasis of the paper.

    Good luck to them.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 8:51 am
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    Sub Up North – to be fair, the Brighton Argus relaunch at least resulted in something still resembling a newspaper. It was a relaunch driven by the marketing department, with many seeing editor Simon Bradshaw (a real news man) carrying the can unfairly.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 9:33 am
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    This is a classic sounds-great-in-a-meeting idea but does not stand up to scrutiny.

    There are far too many pictures. The sum total dilutes the value of the ones worth using.

    The Exclusive Marcus Stewart interview is cringeworthy. He is a big local hero but so what… you have an interview with him. So what? Nobody in Bristol would be surprised he speaks to his local paper.

    This will be a disaster for the Bristol Post’s circulation figures but I imagine this might be the last throw of the dice anyway

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  • September 26, 2013 at 9:36 am
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    Looks like the ‘People’ series of papers which this same stable launched to replace some of its most respected weeklies a couple of years ago.

    Those papers have since gone out of business, by the way.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 9:38 am
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    “The paper has a brand new look. It’s bright, modern and aimed more at celebrating the city and the success of its people than accentuating what is negative about Bristol.”

    I hate this attitude, I really do. It is posing as ‘progressive’ and modern but in fact is an excuse not to do proper journalism and instead fill publications with vacuous guff and puffs.

    Ignore the focus groups, people love bad news. Nobody is going to sit down in a focus group and say “actually, I would like to read about more rapes and murders”. But the truth is people revel in the depravity of mankind. Look in your local bookshop – shelves and shelves of books devoted to the doings of killers and criminals. Not many books about people helping the elderly across the road. That is human nature. Ignore it at your peril.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 10:20 am
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    Didn’t the Brighton Evening Argus down this route.. and we know what happened there.,..

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  • September 26, 2013 at 10:28 am
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    Murders, rapes and stabbings will continue in Bristol, all fronted by a bright front page accentuating how positive things are!

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  • September 26, 2013 at 10:54 am
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    Will the last person to leave the office please turn out the lights?

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  • September 26, 2013 at 11:19 am
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    They ought to hang their heads in shame for bringing that hotch potch out.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 11:22 am
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    An Editor’s message to his readers: “Trusted advice on what to do with their time and money.”
    I can’t believe I am reading this. Just who does this man think he is?

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  • September 26, 2013 at 12:04 pm
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    Kent on Sunday has just done the same thing. Its front page looks much better. One bold picture (such as with KOS) will always trump lots of smaller ones. And who thought it was clever to chop a chuck out of the beach boys?

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  • September 26, 2013 at 12:07 pm
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    What a mess. I’ll give it three months, maximum, before it reverts to being a newspaper. If I were among with those responsible for this, I’d be scanning the jobs section of HTFP. It’s like the Sun filling it’s front page with a picture of Kelly Brook in her nice new green dress on the day after Princess Di was killed. News doesn’t sell newspapers? Tell that to the nationals and regionals who brought out special publications to mark that tragedy. On this logic, they would not have sold an extra copy instead of the millions they shifted. These days, a newspaper has to be all things to everyone. But the Bristol move is madness.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm
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    The culmination of the systematic destruction of a once proud, well read and respected newspaper that Bristol `helped to create.’ How do these people sleep at night?

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  • September 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm
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    Some of the “trusted advice” on what readers can do with their time and money is, of course, produced by the freelances the paper is proposing not to pay.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm
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    @”Steven, the real world”, news is the plural of new. What constitute news is something different to the norm. So if everybody is “happy with their lot” a story about someone who is dissatisfied with his lot would be the news. Everything thing else becomes “so what, tell me something new”.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm
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    Say what you like about the paper (though I disagree with most of the comments) but please spare us all the patronising comments about ‘teenage girls in shorts’ and ‘a girls’ footie team’.

    Bristol Academy are playing Liverpool in the Premier League decider this weekend. The male equivalents are in the lower slopes of the third and fourth tiers. The nationals (see today’s Independent) seem to find it an interesting and important story. You don’t do your arguments any favours.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm
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    Well done Bristol Academy, but how many people go to their games? If When they played Liverpool last season the crowd was 287. I doubt if you’d give such a poorly supported men’s non-league team the same coverage.

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  • September 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm
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    Call me old-fashioned but surely a sports story should be on the back page?

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  • September 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm
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    All for trying something different – though I’m not sure how a lifestyle focused paper would work – but if you’re going to completely transform the paper, why not pay for a decent designer? Looks like something that’s been thrown together using Publisher or WordPress.

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  • September 27, 2013 at 7:10 am
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    Picture-led, featurey fronts can look great (see The Independent, passim and occasionally). Trouble is they look like a great weekly. I’m not sure they convey to readers the immediacy of buying today’s paper, now.

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  • September 27, 2013 at 9:53 am
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    I am all for change and developing old products with new ideas, however, the Bristol Post’s new look almost insinuates they are embarrassed to write about bad news? Priority seems to be given to more ‘jokey’ or light hearted stories. I personally prefer their previous design as it was modern yet kept in touch with the modern day. Although I’m not all for the change- it is an exciting post to add to my A-Level media blog for coursework! Great timing from the Bristol Post.

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  • September 27, 2013 at 5:34 pm
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    Good stories, good pictures, well presented have always sold and will always sell or be read. The rest is guff, navel gazing and listening to people who work in marketing or focus groups, which are unnnecessary.

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  • September 30, 2013 at 7:24 am
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    I’ve got to say, I’ve been laughing my socks off at these comments. It is beyond tiresome to listen to ‘veteran hacks’ with their know-all nonsense and sweeping generalisations. I worked in regional news for 20 years and I heard it all the time. This sells newspapers or that sells newspapers. You don’t get it, do you. Using all this wisdom has seen nothing but decline over 10, 20, 30 years.

    “Good stories, good pictures, well presented have always sold”. Really?

    I think the Post is trying to recognise that buying patterns are different (people less and likely to have it delivered) which is a good reason for a re-design. Every time I read other editors warbling on about a redesign to ‘create a clean, modern look’ I want to scream. A redesign must, as its priority, be all about sales. The rest is just designers’ ego.

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  • September 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm
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    Blimey, you’d think with so many people who ‘know what sells newspapers’ the recent ABCs would look a bit different!

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