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Bi-weekly is born as evening paper closes

An evening newspaper in Kent is to close, and be turned into a bi-weekly publication, following the runaway success of a similar project 18 months ago.

Medway Today, the Kent Messenger Group’s evening daily which appears Monday to Thursday, is being incorporated into a new heavyweight early-week edition of the Medway Messenger, currently a weekly title published on a Friday.

The decision comes in the wake of the commercial success of the Medway Messenger, which sells 22,000 copies a week, a third more than the Friday issue of Medway/Kent Today that it replaced 18 months ago.

The change also reflects how the public wants to receive news and information, according to the KM Group.

KM Group chief executive David Lewis said: “The decision to close our evening daily newspaper was not taken lightly, but the indisputable fact is that weekly paid-for newspapers continue to grow in Kent whereas the evening daily sector is in long term decline.

“The newspaper market is a dynamic one and if we are to continue the impressive growth that KMG has experienced in recent years we must move with the times.

“People are increasingly turning to radio, TV and the Internet for breaking news stories, while wanting more local news and lifestyle information – such as shopping, property, cars and entertainment – from newspapers like ours.”

Medway Today will cease to appear as a separate publication from Thursday, April 3 and the new Monday edition of the Medway Messenger will be launched on Monday, April 7.

The new edition will be published alongside an improved Medway Extra with increased distribution (90,000) on Wednesday and a new weekly 16-page lifestyle supplement, Medway Life, in the Friday issue of the Medway Messenger.

There will be no staff redundancies, although there will be changes in working practices including the need for some news and production journalists to work on Sundays.

David added: “The new arrangements are being made in response to the demands of our customers – both readers and advertisers – and are designed to maintain and enhance our dominant position in the market place.

“On its own, increasing the distribution of the Medway Extra to 90,000 copies per week will make it the largest single newspaper in the Medway Towns.

“We are very excited about the changes we are making. The combination of these three enhanced weekly titles and our increasingly successful radio and online news services offers our Medway customers a complete package that meets their needs, rather than those of the traditional evening newspaper publishing industry.

“Today’s readers and listeners want greater choice and flexibility in how and when they receive the news and in what they read – that’s what we’ll be providing them.”

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