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Free newspaper axed in bid to boost daily stablemate

Regional publisher Johnston Press is axeing a free newspaper in Hampshire in order to focus resources on its daily paid-for sister title.

The Portsmouth Journal, which had an average weekly distribution of 98,506 according to the last set of ABC figures, is being “mothballed” from next week.

Bosses say they are confident that the majority of the title’s revenues can be “migrated” to paid-for stablemate The News which was relaunched earlier this month,.

The move follows the recent closure of The News’ companion Saturday sports paper Sports Mail after 109 years and the introduction of dual pricing for the flagship title.

The annnouncement was made by managing director of JP’s South business unit Karl Dimmock in an internal memo which has been seen by HTFP.

He said:  “The difficult economic climate has seen advertising and leaflet revenues decline while at the same time we have been working hard to strengthen the position of The News as the No.1 brand for news and information in SE Hampshire.

“Early feedback is that the recent changes to The News are being well received, despite the initial concerns about closing the Sports Mail and dual pricing on Saturdays.

“The first sales figures are now in and the sales trends have shown improvements, which is fantastic news and a credit to all of your efforts too ensure the raft of changes went through as smoothly as possible, without the product changes jarring with the readers.”

Karl went on:  “With the increased amount of editionising we are doing along with the excellent ‘new’ Weekender magazine it is felt that we have strong platforms to migrate the majority of the Journals revenues across into The News.

“We can, and will, offer more advertisers low cost of entry editions, couple this with the wider coverage, and unrivalled penetration, that The News offers series advertisers and we have the best print platform available for advertisers.”

Karl added that The News’s iPad app had been downloaded by nearly 900 people in the first ten days.

The last edition of The Journal will be published in week commencing 29 October.


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  • October 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I have said it many times here, local frees are doomed as they were originally based on massive volumes of property advertising.
    That now on the wed and people don’t read to browse property any more.

    Local paid for and weekly, after a flirtation with Mon/Wed/Fri, is where the regional press will end up. Complimented form a business point of view by Metro in larger cities. Regional publishers will also go on kidding themselves that they can make money from local on line and silly TV stations.

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  • October 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Looks like reality is dawning on the industry: you cannot make money by giving away your product (in this case news and advertising) for nothing.

    It’s a lesson other newspaper groups would do well to learn. The industry needs to realise there’s no real competition from online-only ‘journalists’ who are only too happy to churn out for free their opinions dressed up as news.

    But the trouble I foresee for JP is the lack of staff to gather, write and present the news (see the story elsewhere on HTFP today on JP’s group-wide redundancy offer). Staff, like newspapers, don’t come free.

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