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'Smallest paper' keeps one eye on developments in Bath

While the Bath Chronicle boasts an average ABC sale of 12,300, the Heartland Evening News in the Midlands sells fewer – and continues to survive.

The Evening News was set up in Nuneaton when the Evening Tribune pulled out to become a weekly, and a pair of entrepreneurs spotted the gap in the market. It has a nightly sale of less than 10,000.

The Paisley Daily Express is also a smaller newspaper than Bath, and is ABC audited at 10,158. The Birmingham Post sells 13,251.

The Heartland Evening News was seen as a good enough investment for the Yattendon Investment Trust’s media wing of Iliffe News and Media to buy in 2006, and managers are watching its progress within the portfolio with interest.

It was previously owned by independent newspaper publisher Nuneaton and District Newspapers Ltd, set up after the demise of the daily version of the Tribune.

Managing director of Staffordshire Newspapers Gary Matthews, who also runs the Burton Mail, said executives were watching developments in Bath, but had no plans to change their own publishing arrangements.

He said: “Whether you are a daily newspaper or a weekly, life is local. Because every market is different we work to reflect what is happening locally.

“Today, most newspapers, whether published daily or weekly, have complimentary websites which are continuously being updated as news breaks.

“It is therefore easy to understand how publishers of the smaller daily newspapers might contemplate the weekly publishing cycle, but within Staffordshire Newspapers we have absolutely no plans to convert either of our two small daily newspapers – the Burton Mail and the Heartland Evening News – into weeklies.

“We shall, of course, continue to stay abreast of moves within the industry and will watch developments at Bath when they go to weekly publishing.”

  • The first Heartland Evening News was printed in March 1992, after being set up with the industry know-how of former printer Peter Young and his former colleague Tony Parratt in late 1991. Iliffe stepped in in June last year.