A weekly editor retiring after a 50-year career has said that local newspaper circulations could rise again after the recession so long as strong editorial teams are maintained.
Doug Melloy, editor of the Rotherham Advertiser since 1985 and before that editor of the Derbyshire Times from 1982, steps down next month on his 65th birthday to be succeeded by Andrew Mosley, currently assistant editor at the Bolton News.
Doug led the Advertiser into 12 years of consecutive sales rises, reaching a peak of nearly 35,000 in 2007. Only in the last four years have sales steadily declined to a figure just 500 or so less than when he took over.
Speaking to HTFP blogger Steve Dyson for the latest edition of InPublishing magazine, Melloy put the secret of his success down to avoiding the R-word – redundancies.
Doug listed the internet, free newspapers and the recession as his reasons for what he called a “shocking” circulation downturn.
But despite these factors, Doug claims that local papers that are allowed to maintain enough editorial resource to cover local areas properly will recover.
“Unlike the major groups, I’ve virtually avoided the ‘R’ word, successfully arguing against redundancies. I think it’s important to maintain editorial quality to try to recover readership,” he said.
“Even now, our decline is bottoming out, the print run showing year-on-year increases for several weeks this year. I may be deluded, but I’m still looking at us fighting back.”
The Advertiser, owned by the independent Garnett Dickinson Group, won Yorkshire’s regional Newspaper of the Year title in 2011 against neighbouring daily giants, a feat Melloy also puts down to the paper’s lack of editorial cutbacks.