Two council leaders have been given roles on a new advisory panel set up to help a newly-relaunched weekly newspaper stick to its principles.
Kent on Sunday was relaunched this weekend with a magazine-style front page and more emphasis on in-depth reporting and features.
Part of the relaunch saw the Archant-owned title adopt a set of what it called “guiding principles,” including seeking to celebrate as well as criticise, championing causes important to the wellbeing of the county, and having “an easily understood division between news, comment and advertising.”
The paper has set up a seven-person advisory panel to let it know how far it is keeping up to those aims as well as make suggestions as to future content.
Publisher Simon Irwin said: “Once we set out our guiding principles, we felt it was a good idea to invite some leading, independently-minded, figures in the county to tell us whether or not they thought we were sticking to them.
“While advising us on our principles, we felt it would be valuable to hear direct from these opinion formers about what issues they felt we should look at in future papers. Obviously these suggestions will be purely advisory but we will consider all of them very seriously.
“We plan to meet the panel face to face at a group meeting once a quarter but we are, of course, open to any individual advice they care to offer us.
“At the same time as setting up the panel we have asked our readers to let us know when they think we are not living up to our principles. We plan to publish the principles in every issue.”
The panel includes the leader Kent County Council, Paul Carter, and the leader of Medway Council, Rodney Chambers.
Other members include the Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent, Ann Barnes, Bishop of Dover the Rt Rev Trevor Wilmott, and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the County Agricultural Society and tourism body Visit Kent.
This weekend’s relaunch follows a wholesale redesign by an in-house team, led by chief sub Dave Hobday, with a fresh layout and changed typography.
New features include a picture-led front page, a new-look contents page, revamped arts, food and drink pages and a ‘big story’ feature spread.
The paper, which distributed free, has a print run of more than 40,000 and pagination varies between 56 and 96 pages each week.
Editor Chris Britcher said it was the biggest revamp of the paper, which celebrated its 11th anniversary earlier this month, for many years.
He said: “Kent is such a vibrant county. We believe this new, improved look will provide us with a platform to showcase just what it is like to live and work here.
“We are all very excited by the new approach we are taking as we believe it will deliver even greater value to our readers and loyal advertisers.”
Added Simon: “Kent on Sunday is different. It is the only paper that covers the whole of the county. We are distributed in every postcode in Kent.
“We are the only weekend paper in Kent. No other newspaper does what we do. As such, we felt that we should stand out from the crowd more and this new paper does just that.
“We showed dummies of the new paper to existing and prospective advertisers and got an overwhelmingly positive response.
“This weekend, the readers got their chance to pass their verdict. We await the results with interest but, obviously we hope they like it.”