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Staff to produce souvenir editions of axed Kent weeklies

Staff of two weekly newspapers being closed down by Northcliffe Media are to produce special “souvenir editions” of the titles this week in a bid to “go out with a bang.”

The regional publisher announced it was closing the Medway News and the East Kent Gazette following the collapse of its bid to sell its Kent division to the rival KM Group.

The last regular edition of the News was published on Wednesday followed by the Gazette on Thursday.

But following a request by staff at the papers’ Gillingham offices, managers have agreed to publish two final souvenir issues looking back at their coverage of the local area.

Editorial director Alan Geere said:  “Editorial staff at the Gillingham office wanted to, in the words of one long-serving member, “go out with a bang,” so agreed with management that they would go the extra mile and produce a final, souvenir issue of both the Medway News and the East Kent Gazette.”

The special editions, reliving the highs and lows of decades of news and sport coverage in the community, go on sale this week.

East Kent Gazette editor Christine Rayner, who has held the post for 16 years and first joined the Gazette as chief reporter in 1969, said: “This has proved a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone involved, heartened by the outpouring of goodwill messages from supportive readers and former members of staff.”

“We even had a tweet from former Medway gal Kelly Brook, wishing us well,” added Christine.

Northcliffe Media decided to close the titles with the loss of 35 jobs after the Office of Fair Trading effectively blocked its bid to sell them to the KM Group.

It has since emerged that other sister titles in the publisher’s Kent Regional News and Media division may be merged.