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Jobs to go as Archant axes “21st century” newspaper

Regional publisher Archant is scrapping a weekly newspaper it launched less than two years ago with the loss of 12 jobs.

Cambridge First was marketed as a “21st century weekly newspaper” when it first hit the streets in May 2010.

But the title failed to make inroads against more established competitors and Archant has now announced that next week’s issue will be the last.

The move marks the end of a newspaper circulation war in the university city between Archant and Iliffe News and Media, publishers of daily title the Cambridge News.

Iliffe initially hit back against Cambridge First by launching a free, Metro-style publication entitled Cambridge Now.

However this title has since merged with the Cambridge News and Crier to become the Cambridge News and Crier Now.

In a statement, Archant said it was suspending publication of Cambridge First to devote resources towards its more established brands in the area.

Archant Anglia MD Johnny Hustler said: “Launched into a competitive market just as the economic downturn started to bite, Cambridge First has been a great editorial success, however it has not been able to achieve the commercial market share necessary to fund its continued publication.

“We believe that by taking this decision our resources can be focused on our more established titles in the Archant Herts & Cambs portfolio, ensuring that we maintain and improve our performance in areas where our market position is stronger.”

The statement confirmed that 12 roles, including six in editorial, are at risk of redundancy but the company will seek to redeploy staff in alternative positions where possible.

The launch of Cambridge First was overseen by Paul Richardson, then the editorial director of Archant Herts and Cambs, who said at the time:  “Cambridge is ready for something fresh and new and this will be it.”

Paul subsequently left the company in a restructure last autumn.



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  • March 23, 2012 at 11:59 am

    That’s sad. It was a terrific idea – a quality city weekly.

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  • March 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    It should have been a success but there was never a proper strategy and the content was a bit dull. The splash and the tasters for the above edition are an example. Essential reading for the avareage Cambridge resident? Not really.
    However, the blame for the failure sits firmly with Archant’s top dogs.

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  • March 27, 2012 at 8:54 am

    I think as we can all agree that “Cambridge News and Crier Now” is a truly awful name for a paper.

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  • March 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Sadly, most of Archant’s ventures along these lines have fallen by the wayside. Cambridge First was run to the same model as the now-defunct Herts & Essex “Scene” titles (Harlow Scene, Bishop’s Stortford Scene, Hertford and Ware Scene and Broxbourne Scene).

    At the time, Archant was proudly boasting about their ‘news-zine’ format being a successful newspaper/magazine hybrid, but it was pretty much doomed from the outset. Too few staff on both the editorial and advertising sides of the operation, and a bizarre insistence on overlooking hard news or ‘bad’ stories because, presumably, they didn’t think such articles belonged in a ‘community’ newspaper.

    The result was as ugly as it was inevitable: nowhere near enough original, off-diary content, most stories cribbed from press releases or newswires and most photos externally submitted. Sad thing is, it could have worked, but Archant – like so many other publishers – took a “something for nothing” approach, aiming to launch a high-quality and competitive product but without being prepared to invest in the resources.

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