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Sales increase at just 13 paid-for weeklies

Just 13 paid-for weeklies across the UK recorded circulation increases in the final six months of 2012, the latest figures reveal.

The ABCs between July and December found that a total of 10 such papers in England, two in Northern Ireland and one in Scotland – zero in Wales – saw a rise in sales figures.

The best-performing paid-for weekly in England was the Brentwood Gazette, which reported an increase of 29.5pc, although more than a third of its circulation – 33.5pc  – comes from free pick-ups.

The Gazette’s increase comes after the paper launched free edition for the Romford area in April last year.

The Burnham & Highbridge Weekly News also fared particularly well. It offers no free editions but still managed to increase sales by more than 15pc, up to 2,551.

Other English paid-for weeklies which increased circulation include the Gainsborough Standard, at 4.1pc; the Maidenhead Advertiser, at 3.2pc; the Gravesend & Dartford Messenger, at 2.2pc; and the Whitby Gazette, at 2.1pc.

The Sidmouth Herald, Morpeth Herald, Leek Post & Times and the Romsey Advertiser also all reported increased of between 0.6pc and 1.4pc.

The worst results were recorded at the fully paid-for Dover Express, which saw a massive 69.3pc drop in sales, down to 6,294.

Two fully paid-for papers in Northern Ireland saw a rise in the number of people buying a paper, with the North Belfast News reporting a 4.1pc rise to 4,371 copies sold a week and the Newtownards Chronicle  & County Down Observer reporting a 0.2pc increase.

Scottish weekly the Arran Banner increased sales by 2.1pc, while all others in the country reported a drop. The Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette came off worst as sales fell by almost a quarter.

In Wales, the paper with the lowest fall in sales was the Denbighshire Free Press, which dropped just 3.8pc. Just under two per cent of its circulation is accounted for by free pick-ups.

The worst-off was the Gwent Gazette, which is 100pc paid-for and fell by 21.9pc.

By contrast, 88 free weekly newspapers reported increased or stable circulation, while 168 recorded drops. The Uxbridge & West Drayton Gazette, which is 77.5pc free, was the biggest success story of the report with a massive 219.9pc increase in circulation – up to 32,563 copies distributed a week.

Meanwhile, the East Lindsey Target almost doubled its circulation, with a 99.8pc increase.

The KM Extra (Folkestone and Hythe) weekly fared worst, with a drop of 62.9pc.


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  • February 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    The Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette (down 24.2%) is part of the Romanes Media Group, whose other floundering titles include:

    The Clydebank Post (down 22.8%)
    Dumbarton Reporter (down 21%)
    Helensburgh Advertiser (down 8.9%)

    The slump is not hard to fathom when the onus seems to be solely on making cash, rather than producing good papers. In practice this means: small staff, spread ever-thinner; high cover price (70p for 36-40 pages in some cases); one centralised office miles from most ‘patches'; lack of interaction with readers; low story count; recycled PR guff; generic ‘lifestyle’ features across all titles to fill space/save money; messy design; typos and mistakes galore; advertising features given prominence over news; no direction; no consistency; numerous confusing relaunches, redesigns and ‘new’ ideas every other week in a desperate bid to stop the rot.

    As an ex-hack living near Dumbarton, what’s needed is value for money – i.e. a substantial paper filled with lots of local stories that’s not just obviously thrown together every week. Read the comments pages on FB etc and the readers say the same – the papers are too thin and there’s “nothing in them”. I know that there are some good, keen young journos working very hard there but they’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic until the inevitable happens.

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  • February 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    PS this quote from the group’s ex-managing editor says it all:

    “Newspapers are all about revenue.”

    That’s the way to do it. Slash the workforce, bump up the cover price, keep pagination low and cram in as many ads as possible. Then milk it dry for a few years until the readership drops so far that the inevitable happens.

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  • February 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    …obviously my PS makes no sense without the original post. Which has gone awry, but which pointed out that the Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette (-24%) is owned by Romanes Media, which also owns the Clydebank Post (-22.8%), Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter (-21%), Helensburgh Advertiser (-9%) and scores of others. Centralised offices, templates, writing to fit, who cares what’s in it, just bung it out, the punters won’t notice. Oh, they have, quick, try something – anything – new as long as it’s free. Rearrange those deckchairs and ignore the water lapping at your ankles.

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  • March 1, 2013 at 10:17 am

    It’s the same everywhere. death wish management.

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