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Ex-colleagues team up to take on former employer

A group of former newspaper colleagues are aiming to bounce back from redundancy by launching a series of new titles – in oppositon to their old employer.

The five staff all worked for MEN Media in the North West but left as part of a series of shake-ups, which involved centralising operations in Manchester and closing most district offices.

Now they have teamed-up to launch what is planned to be a series of new free monthly titles in the Greater Manchester area.

The first new title, the Rochdale and Heywood Independent, is due to be available for pick-up at supermarkets, libraries and other locations from the week commencing 25 January.

It will go into direct competition against MEN Media-owned weekly the Rochdale Observer and will be followed by a title for Middleton and North Manchester in February and papers for other, as yet undisclosed, areas thereafter.

The new company ‘PIP Media’ comprises: Richard Catlow, formerly editorial director of MEN Media’s weeklies, ex-Accrington Observer editor Mervyn Kay, former Stockport Express editor Mandy Leigh as well as commercial staff Kath Fielding and Brent Armistead.

Mervyn told HTFP: “We weren’t happy with MEN Media’s policy of closing the branch offices and moving everything into Deansgate, in Manchester.

“We were just sitting around with our redundancy money and not much to do.

“Hopefully, it is the right time. We have newspapers in our blood and wanted to have a go at it.”

Also joining the team, which will be based in Rossendale where Richard also runs a communications company, will be Richard’s wife Helen, to work on editorial content, and Helen Goodwin who will be focusing on design and page layout.

The titles will be produced with Horwich-based firm Big Spark Publishing which runs a series of local newspapers in Greater Manchester and Lancashire.


don’t like it up em (15/01/2010 09:36:52)
Good luck. Stick it to the man!

Tony Boullemier (15/01/2010 09:48:47)
Brave try. But monthly drop-off points are not likely to impress the all-important advertisers. Properly distributed copies to homes are what count. And make sure you employ plenty of really good ad reps. You’re going to need them.

Liz Payne (15/01/2010 11:02:51)
Fantastic news! I started my career on the Heywood Advertiser and Accrington Observer and it breaks my heart to see what has happened to these wonderful papers. Go Merv! If anyone can do it, you can!

Dabs (18/01/2010 10:50:35)
Has anyone ever seen a copy of the Independent series? It bills itself as a good news paper but that actually just means press releases without any attempt to dress it up otherwise. Do readers know the difference? Judging by the hundreds I see lying in the dump bins weeks after they’ve been put there, I think so. I hope Mervyn doesn’t follow that policy with this monthly paper. And isn’t there an irony in criticising the MEN for moving papers off patch but then basing producing this new paper from a different borough?

Dan Depan (19/01/2010 15:17:54)
Hope they didn’t sub their own copy as “the weekly Rochdale Observer” they are going head to head with comes out twice a week – although Dodson may have some say in that.
Plenty of talent on board though and I’ll be interested to see how they cope with the monthly cycle – something of an unknown quantity in a newspaper. Sadly the spectre of the North West Enquirer, News on Sunday et al looms