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Media blogger laments decline of regional daily

A leading media commentator has lamented the “gradual demise” of his local daily paper in a hard-hitting blog post.

Roy Greenslade, the former Mirror editor who now blogs about media industry affairs for The Guardian, has lived in Brighton for almost 40 years.

During that time he has seen the circulation of city daily The Argus slump from more than 100,000 to 27,000.

In his blog post, Roy claims owners Newquest should have repositioned the title as an upmarket read designed to appeal to Brighton’s increasingly middle-class, educated audience.

“As we all know, regional evenings have been in decline across the country, but the Argus has lost more buyers faster than many similar titles. Is this Newsquest’s fault? Well, a publisher cannot be entirely free of blame,” he writes.

“The paper, again like others, has tried to be all things to all people, without managing to satisfy any sector. Its front pages have tended to be red-toppish, with an accent on crime. Indeed, much of the news follows a tabloid-style agenda.

“With hindsight, I suppose the paper should have been revolutionised a dozen years ago, at least, by being revamped as an avowedly serious title. It would have shed readers but it may well have built, over time, a new audience of more affluent, more middle class and better educated residents. That would have pleased advertisers.

“One former editor, Simon Bradshaw, now editor of the weekly Henley Standard, was eager to do something like that, but he had to compromise, and the experiment was quietly dropped.”

The paper’s current editor, Michael Beard, has so far made no response to the article.

  • Roy’s blog post can be read in full here.


    JP Worker (21/04/2010 09:52:01)
    Didn’t Greenslade advocate getting rid of subs? Now he’s complaining about the standard of regional papers? A confused man with an agenda who seems to delight in raking over the bones of the industry.

    Oldargusfan (21/04/2010 10:57:10)
    I seem to recall the Argus closed a lot of its district offices (certainly where I lived in Horsham)then wondered why circulation dropped.
    In recent years it could never make its mind up whether it was county paper or a Brighton paper. It became a Brighton paper in reality just cherry picking news from the weeklies.
    It’s boast of “first with the news” on its bills was a well-known joke outside Brighton when I lived in Sussex.
    It’s move to next day publishing a few years back instead of same-day news made it stale and flabby.
    I used to rate highly its coverage of local sport and the Albion.
    Despite it’s fall from grace (it isnt alone by the way Mr Greenslade) I think a lot of people still have an effection for the paper, so I hope things aren’t as gloomy as the Mr Greenslade paints.

    exargushackette (21/04/2010 15:21:52)
    OK the Argus isn’t half the paper it used to be but what paper is nowadays?
    Its OK considering the savage staff cuts it has suffered in recent years and certainly not the worst morning paper in the country by any means.
    Bradshaw was a bit too dynamic for the Argus owners. Although his abrasive style didn’t suit all at least he cared and he certainly worked hard.
    Greenslade is a bit sad spending his “older” days attacking a small local paper.
    Must be some bigger fish he can fry, surely?

    xargus (21/04/2010 16:20:32)
    The rot set in during the eighties.The company was in disarray and circulation was falling away due to the limitation on news from outside Brighton,and the need to close regional offices across Sussex.The cost of maintaining regional offices was prohibitive,and sales outside of Brighton did not carry any weight with advertisers.Newsquest were onto a hiding when they purchased W.P.