A regional daily’s deputy editor has said he is so confident about the quality of journalism at the title he would install a paywall tomorrow.
Andy Martin from the Bournemouth Echo said he believed the industry should have never given away the “valuable commodity” of online news for nothing.
Speaking at the Journalism Skills Conference in Bournemouth, he said there were discussions being held within Newsquest about whether paywalls were “an appropriate model” for other papers in the group to follow.
Fellow Newsquest title The Herald, based in Glasgow, introduced a paywall to its website in January last year and managing editor Tom Thomson said it had been “extremely successful”.
Andy told the conference: “We are having discussions about whether that is an appropriate model for the rest of the papers in the group to follow.
“I am so confident about the quality of the journalism we produce that I would put a paywall on there tomorrow.”
He added that he had got the most positive and optimistic newsroom that he had had in 17 years and said the paper had started to invest in more reporters.
Speaking about The Herald’s paywall, Tom said there was a bell in editorial that dings every time a new subscription is taken out.
He said he hoped the printed title could be sustained by digital revenues within around five years.
During the discussion, Tom also revealed the number of editorial staff at the Herald and Times group had been reduced by around 30-40pc in recent years but said there were still around 200 journalists.
Former Argus deputy editor Frank Le Duc, from Brighton and Hove News and Latest TV, raised concerns at the conference about fewer reporters going out of the office to cover local news.
He said: “I go to lots of council meetings and I’m often the only reporter there.
“There does seem to be a trend in some places where there are far fewer reporters out and about.”