I liked the front of the Skelmersdale Advertiser so much that I bought it twice; or, to be accurate, I bought the sister edition Ormskirk Advertiser as well.
The dear old lady behind the counter in Rainford village newsagents tried to warn me: “You know those are basically the same paper, chuck?”
I cheerfully explained how impressed I was at the changing splash headlines, news shoulder and boost, suiting each town’s edition.
“And look,” I added, turning the pages of both papers, “they’ve editionised several inside pages as well – and the back page!”
I think she thought I was a little potty, but buy them both I did, and then enjoyed comparing them over a pint of Theakston Lightfoot in The Golden Lion opposite.
‘Skem fire engine axe threat’ was the splash headline on the Skelmersdale Advertiser on 25 July, which made me smile as I tried to read it aloud several times in a bad Scouse accent.
This was then simply but cleverly changed to ‘5 fire engines to go in cuts’ for the Ormskirk Advertiser, with the same story appearing inside for both editions.
The best stories for each town were then chosen as blurbs or nibs on each front: ‘Firbeck gets a major revamp’ and ‘Police in gun swoop drama’ for Skelmersdale, and ‘Thieves stole the bike I’d saved for’ and a flight of three write-off nibs for Ormskirk.
I know what you might be thinking: “This is nothing new – it’s just basic editionising, and something we did with our eyes closed for generations.”
Yes, you’re right, but after all the industry’s recessionary cutbacks and with so much pressure on today’s editorial floors, it was pleasing to see the results of news teams working so hard on tight front pages.
I shouldn’t have been too surprised, of course: the executive editor overseeing the Advertisers is Andrew Edwards, a dyed-in-the-wool hack if ever I knew one, and he should be proud of his team’s work.
Some observers might criticise the fronts for carrying too many boosts, but given schools were breaking up I thought the ‘40 fantastic family days out for the summer’ and related offers were worth the space.
Pages two, three, four, five, seven and the back page were also changed for Skelmersdale, with the rest of the paper using the ‘home’ Ormskirk pages. Other stories that caught my eye included:
- ‘Armed police raid home on estate to catch wanted man’ leading Skelmersdale’s page five;
- ‘Masterchef finalist’s second restaurant shuts its doors’ leading Ormskirk’s page seven;
- ‘Butcher rode 500 miles for chemo units’ leading page eight in both editions;
- ‘Trainee priest meets the Pontiff’ leading both page 13s; and
- ‘Chinese lantern landed in the middle of our arid field’ leading both page 14s.
The back pages led with ‘Southport win will give Skem confidence boost’ for Skelmersdale, and ‘Beat Northern and we’ve got a chance of the title’ for Ormskirk – a story on the town’s cricket team.
Owned by Trinity Mirror, the Advertisers sold an average of 5,392 a week in the last six months of 2012 – 4,020 in Ormskirk and 1,372 in Skelmersdale – 100% at a 70p cover price.
Now costing 75p, each title had around 120 stories on 34 editorial pages in a 68-page book – a story count that should probably be a little higher for that price – plus a 28-page Property pull-out.
Both Advertisers’ content is combined on one website, www.osadvertiser.co.uk, although readers are still helped to feel local with feeder addresses using the full www.ormskirkadvertiser.co.uk or www.skelmersdale.co.uk promoted in the papers, a detailed touch that I liked.