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Astley targets daily-turned-weekly patches for new web launches

The former editor of a daily-turned-weekly who has set up a website on his old title’s patch is set to target other areas where newspapers have changed frequency.

Marc Astley, who quit Exeter’s Express and Echo three months after it went weekly last year, has launched The Exeter Daily saying there is a demand for daily news in the city.

Now it has emerged that he has also bought up a series of website domain names with a view to extending the model to other towns and cities.

They include several areas where Express and Echo publisher Northcliffe Media has switched other titles to weekly publication, including Lincolnshire, Scunthorpe and East Devon.

Marc told HTFP that franchising the ‘Daily’ brand to other towns and cities had always been part of his plan.

“I have reserved a whole number of domains with the intention of rolling the project out in the near future.  We are talking to a number of people in other parts of the country already.

“It will be easy for us to white-label this website and we will provide people with the website branding, hosting and insurance. All people will have to do is sell advertising and populate the sites with content.”

Asked whether he was targeting Northcliffe areas to roll-out the project, he said:  “There is a yearning for daily news not just here but in other areas.”

The list of URLs purchased by Marc includes thelincolnshiredaily.com, thescunthorpedaily.com and theeastdevondaily.com.

The Northcliffe titles that cover each of those areas, the Lincolnshire Echo, Scunthorpe Telegraph and Torquay Herald Express, all moved from daily to weekly publication last year.

Marc has also purchased similar domain names for areas such as Grimsby and Gloucestershire where Northcliffe still publishes a daily newspaper.

The full list of domains that Marc has purchased includes the following:

cornishdaily.com
dorsetdaily.com
gloucestershiredaily.com
grimsbydaily.com
lincolnshiredaily.com
plymouthdaily.com
scunthorpedaily.com
somersetdaily.com
thecornishdaily.com
theeastdevondaily.com
theexeterdaily.com
thegrimsbydaily.com
thescunthorpedaily.com
thesomersetdaily.com
thewesterndaily.com

14 comments

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  • October 10, 2012 at 8:51 am
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    ‘…All people will have to do is sell advertising and populate the sites with content…’ Sounds easy peasy. What could possibly go wrong ?

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  • October 10, 2012 at 9:13 am
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    Page Turner
    I suppose incredibly low overheads, little debt, no print advertising to protect, no presses to fill, no print exclusives to hold on to. Complete focus on the websites

    Seemed to work quite well for Huffington Post.

    So the cost base is gathering the news and adding editorial judgement to it, some up front but ultimately templated design, the cost of selling the ads collecting payements etc. Minor costs for hosting etc.

    I think the major problem is that digital has moved on, peole want digital with them on their mobiles and increasingly tablets etc.But all do-able at a relatively low cost.

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  • October 10, 2012 at 9:46 am
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    Good luck to Marc. I wish him well. However, he seems to be starting from an assumption that the areas those old dailies used to cover were natural communities, and the truth is they are probably not. Newspaper circulation areas more often than not were drawn and redrawn to suit the newspaper company. Some areas taken out because it cost too much to get a van there, or too much focus in another area because there was a bit of a rivalry.
    Huff Post works because it has national scale and is nothing like a newspaper. The Daily site Marc has launched looks and feels like it’s come from a newspaper – and people don’t want that online.
    If there really was a yearning for local news, then it’s a safe bet that a lot of the newspapers he is talking about would still be daily. As one commenter observed yesterday, Marc seemed to think weekly was the way forward a while back….

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  • October 10, 2012 at 9:58 am
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    Fred Bloggs

    Huffington Post does nothing of the sort … it continues to struggle to monetize digital even with the vast money thrown at it. Fact is, virtually no one is making money directly from news websites. How on earth this Exeter operation will pay four salaries is beyond me.

    At the risk of repeating myself, can anyone tell me of a news website anywhere which makes money on its own two feet (ie without relying on a print product for content etc).

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  • October 10, 2012 at 10:01 am
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    Fred Bloggs?

    Does it work well for Huffington Post? Are you sure?

    The point is Astley’s model is doomed to failure because of the numbers.

    National newspapers have global appeal and can get tens of millions of unique users per month and have kick-ass commercial teams.

    Local newspapers, by definition, have very limited appeal. There is no money to be made from websites alone.

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  • October 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm
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    erm…only three of these new domain names (Exeter aside) are in areas that have just turned weekly. Seems an odd top-line to pick out. Maybe the fact he seems to be going after predominantly Northcliffe regions is the actual story.

    And why is there no story up about the rumoured sale of Northcliffe?

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  • October 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm
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    Er….because they are just rumours?

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  • October 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm
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    Paul, if its a rumour that affects thousands of your readers, surely you should be investigating it…

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  • October 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm
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    Who’s to say we’re not. But if we were to reproduce all the rumours we hear about the regional press industry on this site, it would soon become impossible to distinguish between speculation and fact.

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  • October 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm
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    I have been running my own hyperlocal business in print and on the web for more than two years after redundancy from The Blackpool Gazette.

    A great product, which Marc appears to have, is vital but not enough.

    I have learned two inescapable facts: firstly, you have to recruit a good number of advertisers, which is extremely hard work; secondly, those advertisers have to see their advertising work or they do not repeat.

    I wish Marc well with a good concept but before he gets carried away with franchising possibilities – as I did – he will have to show potential franchisees he can make a profit. It all stands or falls on that.

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  • October 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm
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    Am I the only one who’s a bit confused?

    Yesterday Marc was reported as saying “people had been bemoaning the lack of a proper daily news service” and that “this isn’t about getting into a scrap with Northcliffe” (while conveniently overlooking the existence of the thisissites and the impossibility of providing such a news service with just one journalist on the payroll).

    Today we’re told he’s purchased a whole host of domain names including ones, such as http://www.plymouthdaily.com, for locations in which Northcliffe continues to publish a daily title. One can only conclude that Marc isn’t quite as altruistic as he might have us believe and that he is indeed set on a scrap with Northcliffe.

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  • October 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm
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    Peter Ward’s post rings true. In North America, there’s a reason why publishers refer to paper dollars and digital cents. Making digital pay (enough) remains a huge challenge, regardless of the heritage or other business interests of the website publisher.

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  • October 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm
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    Interesting choice of thewesterndaily.com. Northcliffe left the door wide open there. Perhaps they don’t realise that the Western Daily Press is known to many as the Western Daily. Although I’m sure it won’t remain daily for much longer.

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  • October 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm
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    If Facebook, with more than a billion users, is losing money, then it’s difficult to see how others can make it, unless the site is selling something direct, eg Amazon.

    As for news content. What news, other than press releases from charities and public bodies and plugs for businesses, does the site have?

    Is the Exeter Daily going to cover court and council? Difficult to see how it can with so few staff.

    It will struggle to attract readership unless it can provide something better than is already out there, eg thisisexeter.co.uk and even then will struggle to attract advertising, which it must if it to make money.

    Anyone know if thisisexeter or similar make money? If so, How is it costed? Does the site’s ‘journalism’ come free from the paid for weekly?

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