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Weekly sees sales up 67pc after death crash rewrite

Sales of a weekly newspaper were up by 67pc on the previous year’s figure after staff gave up part of their festive holiday to rewrite the edition after a triple death crash.

South Yorkshire Times editor Jim Oldfield and reporter Alex Vessey heard about the tragedy in Mexborough, the paper’s core town, on the Tuesday Bank Holiday after Christmas and immediately went into the office to remake the 30 December edition, which had been put to bed before the break – resulting in the incredible increase in sales compared to the same week in 2009.

The pair also spent time on New Year’s Eve reporting and taking photos from a school field as Chinese lanterns were launched in memory of those who had died.

This resulted in the following week’s edition selling out in the town on the same morning that it appeared and despite supplies being rushed in from other areas, the paper sold out completely just over two days after hitting the streets.

Jim said he was disappointed about the sell-out because it meant readers had not been able to find copies of the edition.

He said: “It’s not just about lost sales – when readers’ expectations are dashed, because copies of such an important edition are not available, to people who are hunting everywhere for them, the standing of the product and everything we have tried to do with it, is put at jeopardy”.

In an attempt to quell reader disappointment, the Times has now put together a special, four-page tribute pull-out to the three teenagers who died in the crash – re-running many of the popular lantern pictures, together with comprehensive coverage of all three funerals, which were held in the space of four days.

When Jim took the helm at the paper in January 2009, it was recording year-on-year sales losses as high as 30pc but the latest ABC figures showed a decline of just 3.9pc.