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Freesheets do battle as two new titles launch

A newspaper circulation battle has broken out in a small but potentially lucrative corner of Greater Manchester.

Two new titles, the Saddleworth Independent and the Saddleworth Extra, have just launched against eachother in the upmarket parish near Oldham which boasts a relatively prosperous population of around 24,000 people.

The weekly Extra is published by Hirst, Kidd and Rennie, owners of the Oldham Evening Chronicle, and is available to read online using PageSuite software.

It has 16 pages of its own specific content, along with versions of stories which have appeared in the Evening Chronicle, and is delivered to around 8,000 homes and available at pick up points every Thursday.

But it faces competition in the shape of the four-weekly Independent, produced by Investors in Publishing, a company jointly owned by Bolton-based magazine publisher Big Spark and distributor Self Select which also launched the Mid Cheshire Independent earlier this month.

Around 6,000 copies of the 32-page title are available from local shops, post offices and other locations.

It joins a stable of nine other ‘Independent’ titles covering Bolton, Bury, East Manchester, Preston and Leyland, Rochdale and Heywood, Rossendale, Stockport, Warrington and Cheshire, which was the first paper it launched in January 2009. Total circulation is around 135,000 copies a month.

Former Trinity Mirror executive Ken Bennett will edit the Saddleworth Independent alongside running his own PR consultancy.

The area is also served by Saddleworth Monthly magazine and Around Saddleworth Magazine which is bi-monthly.

The company also employs former Leigh Journal editor Mike Hulme, who looks after the Bolton, Bury, Stockport and Warrington titles, and former Daily Sport editor David Beevers as a feature writer.

Investors in Publishing MD Stuart Parker told HTFP: “We have further launches planned although I can’t reveal details at the moment.

“It’s good fun and we love local newspapers. We think there’s a hell of a market in them.

“We don’t cover hard news, it’s all soft news, family focussed such as kids winning egg and spoon races and local activities reporting.

“These are pick-up newspapers, readers have a choice, so we know that what we are doing is popular.

“We’re a forward-looking company and when times are hard we have employed redundant journalists.”


Toot Toot (26/03/2010 08:33:34)
Have you ever seen a copy of the Independent? If it is like the other ones, what it actually is is a bunch of press releases filling the gaps around adverts. It’s not a newspaper by any stretch of the imagination and readers pick up on that quickly, if the high number of copies which sit there untouched in other areas are anything to go by.

lilyfield (26/03/2010 08:42:05)
Perhaps you should actually read a copy of the Saddleworth Independent before passing comment. 32 pages — the first 16 all locla news not a press release in it. The next six are features, mainly local; then there’s three pages of local business news then more local pictures and hey, yes, you guessed it! Three pages of local sport. Get the common theme here? Local!!

watcher (26/03/2010 09:02:41)
er…just remind me will you, which of our local daily or weekly papers has never done a quick rewrite on a press release because it had useful info for the readers but just needed a tickle up?

Scoop Malloy (26/03/2010 09:47:02)
Errrr…I’ve just read the Mid-Cheshire Independent and I can’t see a an obvious press release anywhere! All local stuff – no problem with that, well done.

realword (26/03/2010 09:53:50)
EXCITING as first word of splash story? Is this the reporter’s opinion. If so it should be been subbed out. Far too much comment from reporters nowadays. Stick to OTHER peoples’ opinion and facts.
Otherwise looks like a decent front for a freesheet that probably has minimal staffing.

Toot Toot (26/03/2010 09:59:06)
Yup, seen various versions of the Independent. I agree, local news is important, but there’s a difference between good local news and stuff which PRs pump out.

hilary (26/03/2010 10:35:02)
What is it, Toot Toot? Good news is no news? Just because the news is “fluffy” doesn’t mean it’s not local or genuine – and just because it’s not court or crime doesn’t mean it’s all PR-generated. I assume that when something really nasty happens in Saddleworth – like they find Keith Bennett’s skeleton, for instance – will be covered. Otherwise, local folk like their fluffy news. And so do the advertisers…

semi-retired (26/03/2010 12:07:39)
couldnt agree more. when i was training I was told crime court and council were easy lazy copy and get out and find some human interest.
Mind you, that was when papers had three or four times the reporting staff they have now.

Richard (26/03/2010 12:58:16)
There’s also a hyperlocal news website for the area (run by me) at – oddly, neither the Extra nor the Independent has a website of its own!