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New JP boss to ‘help move newspapers into digital age’

The new boss of regional publisher Johnston Press has set out his mission for the company – in an interview with one of his flagship titles’ biggest rivals.

Ashley Highfield, left, who took over as chief executive of JP earlier this month, spoke to The Herald about his plans for its portfolio of newspaper titles, which include The Scotsman.

Declaring the print is not dead, he said his main objective was to help the existing newspaper brands move into the digital age.

Mr Highfield, who previously ran Microsoft’s UK consumer arm and was also instrumental in the launch of the BBC iPlayer, made clear that he sees boosting digital revenues as key to the company’s future success.

He told The Herald:  “I took the job with my eyes open knowing that the regional press has structural challenges.

“The opportunities are very clear with Johnston Press, as with other regional publishers, because the brands of the local newspapers are incredibly strong in local communities.

“The trick is to help move those brands into the digital age and get the right balance between print and digital.

“It is quite clear to me that newspapers in print are not dead.  It is about finding what audiences need and what mixture of print and digital products to offer them.”

His comments come the day after an interim management status for the period July-November showed a slight slowing in the rate of advertising revenue decline at JP.

Digital revenues in the same period increases by 4pc, driven in part by the launch of a new online business directory, Find It.

The Herald story can be accessed here but new users will need to register to read it in full.

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  • November 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    The first step towards the digital age for JP papers is admitting the current websites are not doing the job from any point of view.

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