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Dyson at Large: A regional fantasy (inspired by i and The New Day)

220px-I_Issue_1I don’t know whether to smile, laugh or cry over Johnston Press’ intended purchase of i, and Trinity Mirror’s planned launch of The New Day.

There’s certainly a warm smile for both publishers’ seeming commitment to print.

And we all wish the i the very best with JP, despite its Independent parent shutting down as a paper and – removed from its healthy offspring – attempting a digital-only transformation.

This smile, however, turns into a laugh at what feels like a total mismatch of business strategy for JP – an entrenched regional publisher, arguably managing decline, now set to own and grow what was one of the most successful national newspapers, (I suppose they’ll call it ‘uber-plus’).

The warm smile returns at Trinity Mirror’s impending launch of The New Day, but could turn to tears when you compare what’s planned (25p promotional cover price, millions in marketing, no website, 25 new staff, etc) against what’s happened to its regional dailies (cover prices of 65p-plus, next to nothing in marketing, content given away on the web, regular redundancy programmes, etc).

But given that both national adventures have been more than adequately covered elsewhere, what I’ve decided to do today is to have my own little newspaper fantasy – only this time it’s about regionals. So here goes…

GET YER LATE NIGHT FINAL

Britain’s leading regional publishers have revealed plans to launch a new, editionised evening paper to serve the UK’s main urban conurbations outside London.

The title, to be called Late Night Final, will be jointly-owned by Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press, Newsquest and Archant and will have common features, TV, puzzles, national news and sports pages.

The newspaper will then have editionised slip fronts and changing regional news and sports pages that will enable it to serve each locality.

Late Night Final will be distributed after 1pm in ten greater city areas around the UK with an initial cover price of 20p, although 60% of distribution will be ‘free’ via major hotels, café chains, train stations and airports.

And while 80pc of the editorial will be created and laid out overnight, 20pc will be ‘live’ content gathered each morning with an off-stone deadline of 12 noon.

The ten greater city areas are expected to be:

  • West Midlands – including Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Solihull, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and surrounding towns
  • East Midlands – including Derby, Leicester, Nottingham
  • North East – including Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham and Middlesbrough
  • North West – including Manchester, Liverpool and Blackburn
  • Yorkshire – including Leeds, Hull, Sheffield and York
  • South – including Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Brighton and Plymouth
  • South West – including Bristol, Bath and Gloucester
  • East – including Norwich, Cambridge, Ipswich and Peterborough
  • Wales – including Cardiff, Newport and Swansea
  • Scotland – including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen

Late Night Final will have a single editor-in-chief to oversee the entire publication, which will be subbed at Newsquest’s production hub in Newport, Wales.

There will be ten regional news editors heading each edition’s local pages, each with a small but dedicated staff of news and sports reporters and photographers.

The four publishers have appointed the experienced editorial journeyman Alan Geere, left,  as editor-in-chief.

HeAlan Geere said: “Who said newspapers were dying? We’ll be recruiting the best hacks in every region and will be making waves with the stories that everyone wants to know about but that regional journalism had forgotten how to uncover.

Added Alan: “Late Night Final will be a force to be reckoned with and will defy doomsayers for years to come.

“I don’t know about a New Day… but this is a new dawn – or a fresh dusk – for the evening newspaper.”

The new regional evening will be printed at printing presses across the country owned by Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press and Archant.

And it will be ‘print-first’, with its accompanying website and social media channels primarily used for marketing, carrying just tasters of the full edition’s content.

(That enough dreaming – Ed)

Do you fancy it? Answers on a virtual postcard, please…

21 comments

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  • February 24, 2016 at 8:22 am
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    Quality piece Mr D
    for a minute i really thought the late night final/early afternoon daily evening was a genuine story such is the chaotic depth of strategy coming from the four aformentioned groups with their “try anything,say anything to get a few quid off advertisers before we finally vanish up our own distribution channels” policies.
    Trouble is all are so desperate and clueless as to what to do next and which bandwagon to jump upon that one of the many yes men there is likely to put this into “a paper” and present it as a viable option to score a few points.
    Though reading about some of the ridiculous strategies and headless chicken policies coming from this quartet this is just the kind of “blue sky thinking” ” off the wall” ” out of the box” “let me kick this by you guys” ” this ones got legs so should wash its face” ” I`m going to run this up the flagpole and see who salutes it” idea that any of them would go for if they thought there were any readers left to pitch to

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  • February 24, 2016 at 8:41 am
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    ….. editorial staff will be based in Mumbai coffee houses, using technologies such as Facetime to conduct interviews in order to maximise efficiency.
    An Archant spokesman, described the plans as “exciting” at a Press conference at the company’s new ice rink today.
    “Digital is dead, long live print!”

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  • February 24, 2016 at 10:04 am
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    “South – including Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Brighton and Plymouth”
    “South West – including Bristol, Bath and Gloucester”

    Have you ever seen where Plymouth is on a map Steve?

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  • February 24, 2016 at 10:09 am
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    Do you think this is an idea the “Archant Detective Agency Unit” should look into?
    Dont even joke about it guys,i will bet one of the yes men in Archant towers is copying and pasting this and passing this off to jeff as their idea as the next step along the way to achieving the “best of breed 2017″ self annointed acolade, as we speak.

    Sad thing is if they did they are likely to be taken seriously

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  • February 24, 2016 at 10:20 am
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    In Leeds we had a fantastic newspaper that did that. It was printed on Wellington Street and was on the street in next to no time. It was called the Yorkshire Evening Post. I wonder what happened to it? Oh I know JP!

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  • February 24, 2016 at 11:44 am
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    Print has a place where there’s a good shelf life. Madness when you need immediacy.

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  • February 24, 2016 at 11:48 am
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    Dear Mr Dyson
    Could you please not use the phrase’ managing decline’ in any article which mentions Archant , there are already far too many managers walking round holding bits of paper, drinking coffee and not actually doing anything as it is, we certainly don’t need anymore,such phrases will only give the top floor crew ideas about creating a position called ‘decline manager’ and the 2 or 3 sales reps and hacks without the word ‘manager’ or ‘executive’ in their job title will simply get ideas above their station!
    Some of the 200/300 managers who weren’t part of the ‘100 manager seminar’ at the castle are already feeling left out so please refrain from contentious phrases such as ‘managing decline’ it hits too many nerves and makes non managers feel deflated.
    I thank you
    Disgruntled of Norfolk

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  • February 24, 2016 at 12:15 pm
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    Thanks to comments so far from hacks entering my fantasy…

    And yes, Mr Nice, you’re right to point out my geographical error.

    In my dream, you are now the circulation director…

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  • February 24, 2016 at 12:26 pm
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    I never had as much fun as on an evening paper, meeting three deadlines for each day as well as filing overnight copy for next day.
    But it won’t happen again. Needs too many staff and experienced reporters to be done on the cheap!

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  • February 24, 2016 at 12:42 pm
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    not too daft a plan.

    Surely it is time for TM/JP or Newsquest to gamble on a free evening paper with a 50k run. In stand alone towns/cities the old school advertising would come flooding back except – not to the extent of old but a bit or property/motors/jobs would come back plus at 50kk maybe even a bit of supermarket advertising. Yes they would lose cover price but now that the companies are running so slim maybe the costs would stack up?

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  • February 24, 2016 at 12:52 pm
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    Sentimental, self-serving tripe. Yep, would just love to be reading about what happens in Stockport when I live in Ashton (look them up on the maps Steve, close but a million miles apart).

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  • February 24, 2016 at 8:47 pm
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    I’ve thought along similar lines before but I’m not completely sure what problem this is solving. If we assume people buy or pick up a local paper for local news (because all the other stuff – the features and TV listings and national news and so on – they can get at higher quality and/or for free elsewhere), what is this actually delivering them that standalone locals don’t?

    Yes, you can improve the quality (and/or reduce the cost) of the features/national coverage/etc. by sharing it, and yes, you can have a quasi-national advertising offer, save on some back-office and editorial production costs, etc. etc.

    But how does this really deliver anything better than a chain of standalone evening papers would (which isn’t a lot these days)?

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  • February 24, 2016 at 10:07 pm
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    You’ve just described something similar to the Metro but with higher editorial and distribution costs and without the money-spinning London edition.

    You’ve tied your dreamworld title’s hands behind its back by insisting on an afternoon printing, which died the death ten years ago, thanks to the Internet. The Manchester Evening News found this out, painfully, several years ago when they launched a ‘lite’ commuter edition. It lasted a few months.

    The regions you describe don’t work. As the TV companies know only too well, towns and cities 50 miles apart have few common interests. Countless research studies have shown that regional news is of least interest to readers, behind local and even national.

    And despite what your fellow dreamers on here say, the advertising revenue would not come flooding back. If it was that easy, the regional publishers would have tapped into it already.

    Apart from that, it’s a wizard idea.

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  • February 25, 2016 at 10:22 am
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    Circulation manager? I’ll take the job. What’s the salary and pension package like?

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  • February 25, 2016 at 11:30 am
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    Living in cloud cuckoo land
    Nice bit of fun though.

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  • February 25, 2016 at 1:06 pm
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    Interesting to see the great newspaper warrior Mr Geere as editor-in-chief. But why in your dream was that not you Steve? Too many battle scars?

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  • February 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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    Had you not heard, Robin? Alan’s recruited me as his deputy…

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  • February 26, 2016 at 1:04 pm
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    Dream on Steve. You may not recall that we at TM Midlands designed and created a handsome free evening newspaper which looked surprisingly like the i – in 2006. All was lost in the MBO muddy waters.
    Now, the costs of print and quality journalism simply don’t add up anymore and certainly not on a regional basis. Maybe in your dreams they do…. we shall watch developments with interest.

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  • February 26, 2016 at 3:13 pm
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    I certainly do remember your TM Midlands’ dummy free evening back in 2006, Mark. As you say, muddy days! And with swiftly changing and criss-crossing priorities from that boardroom, I recall…! But methinks you might be taking my fantasy above too seriously. It was intended as a regional pastiche (with sarcasm) on The New Day developments. As for the costs of print and quality journalism, they very much do still add up, but perhaps not for too much longer on a plc-owned daily regional basis. But alternative models (out there and working) are different stories for another day… Meanwhile, best wishes up there near the Mersey!

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