The national debate over Scotland’s future may have saved the latest circulation ‘vote’ on UK regional newspapers from total wipe-out.
Only one newspaper in the whole of Britain registered a sales increase in the ABC figures for the first six months of 2014.
The Sunday Herald enjoyed a one per cent rise in its January-June stats to take the undisputed title of best print performer across Britain.
And the Herald & Times Group’s own internal figures for the subsequent July and early August 2014 period show this rate of growth increasing further, to 13.5pc year-on-year for the first two weeks of this month, which equates to more than 28,000 copies sold.
Editor Richard Walker said that the weekly paper’s choice to become the first regional to back Scottish independence helped, along with the launch in May of a new glossy magazine. The country goes to the polls on 18 September.
And Tim Blott, manager director of the Herald and Times’ title, was quick to give a positive slant to the ‘death-wish’ stories swirling around the industry.
He said: “What is interesting to note is that, despite a tendency by the media to report with alacrity, stories of its own demise, we at the Herald & Times Group are seeing a significant increase in paid readership overall.
“We place our readers at the heart of our development strategy and will continue to provide news and content through whichever platforms they prefer.”
But the Herald was a shining beacon in an otherwise gloomy set of figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
All the rest of the UK weekly publications posted falling circulation figures – with some spectacular minuses recorded.
A similar decision at the beginning of this year saw The East Grinstead Courier switch from part paid for/part free to a purely paid-for publication – and as a result saw the ABC figure fall by 57pc.
But encouragingly since the change the weekly has registered a 13.9pc year-on-year increase in its paid-for sales for the period from January to June 2014 – rising by 510 copies per week from an average 3,648 to 4,158.
The current set of ABCs covers titles whose sales are audited six-monthly, many titles having now switched to a once-a-year audit.