A town in the Welsh borders is set to become the battleground in a new newspaper war following the launch a new free weekly title.
The first edition of the new Oswestry and Border Chronicle hit the streets yesterday – the same day that the paid-for Powys County Times traditionally goes on sale.
However Welshpool is also the home of the 15,000-circulation County Times, owned by rival publisher NWN Media.
David Williams, boss of hyperlocal site mywelshpool.co.uk, is predicting “blood on the newsstands” following yesterday’s launch.
In an added twist, the MNA has recruited former County Times editor Graham Breeze as associate editor of the new title.
As well as being a former County Times chief, Graham also played a leading role in setting up mywelshpool.co.uk alongside David.
Graham told the website: “This is a very exciting time for the newspaper industry in the Welshpool area. Readers can expect a new paper packed with news and sport.”
The launch of the Chronicle has been overseen by Jon Simcock, deputy editor of the Shropshire Star.
He said that all the editorial content in yesterday’s 88-page first edition, which included a 44-page property supplement, was unique to the new title.
Jon told HTFP: “It’s something we have been looking at for quite a considerable length of time. Oswestry is the third biggest town in Shropshire and it’s an area we’re keen to develop.
“This is an area where the Shropshire Star has circulated for 40 years. Welshpool is at the heart of our Mid-Wales edition so it’s a natural fit with the footprint we already have.”
As well as the Star, the MNA already publishes two other free weekly titles in Shropshire, the Shrewsbury Chronicle and the North Shropshire Chronicle.
Two new jobs have been created as a result of the launch, with the possibility of a third still to come.
As well as Graham – described by Jon as “just about the most respected journalist in Welshpool” – Alex James has been recruited as sports editor while a chief sub’s post may also be created.
Although Graham is leading the news operation, Shropshire Star reporters have also been involved in garnering content for the new paper,
David Williams commented: “It will be interesting to see how this develops because the County Times has been welcomed into Welshpool homes for more than a century and historically has not taken kindly to rivals creeping onto its patch.
“However, their sales have dropped off 25pc over the last decade and I believe that we have proved since launching www.mywelshpool.co.uk that people’s reading habits are changing.
“It is a very brave move launching a new newspaper in this current climate. There will be blood at the newsstands.”
The County Times told the website it is “monitoring the situation closely.”