The editor of Britain’s biggest regional daily has hailed a “new chapter” in its long history as it moves to overnight publication.
Yesterday’s edition of the Express & Star saw the paper move from on-the-day printing with the presses rolling from shortly before midnight.
But editor Keith Harrison denied the change will turn the Wolverhampton based title into a “morning paper.”
In a first-person piece published yesterday, he said its deadlines would still be mater than nationals and that he would still be able to stop the presses for major breaking stories.
Said Keith: “Today, the Express & Star embarks on a new chapter in its long and illustrious history.
“Changes to our production schedule mean that our newspapers are going to be printed earlier. The presses will be rolling from close to midnight and continue right through the early hours.
“That doesn’t make us a ‘morning paper’ – our deadlines will still be later than the nationals and even when production has started we’ll be able to ‘stop the press’ for big stories. Being able to say ‘Hold the front page!’ is still one of the great thrills of being an editor.
“What it does mean is that we’ll be available in shops earlier and readers who have the paper delivered may find it arrives sooner.”
Keith went on to explain that the paper would be maintaining its current structure of editions for the various parts of its patch and will be bringing back separate Saturday editions for Staffordshire, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
He also said that although big national stories would still be covered, there will be “a little less national news and sport on our pages.”
Added Keith: “The sharp rise in digital technology says readers no longer look to newspapers for the latest test match score or Open golf reports, as they are available up-to-the-minute online. And that’s largely why we’re switching things around.
“The newspaper industry has undergone a revolution in the past decade. The emergence of new technology means that however fast a newspaper is – and we pride ourselves on being the fastest – print can never beat a mobile phone, tablet or Twitter feed to the punch on breaking news.”
Since the rival Birmingham Mail went overnight five years ago, the Express & Star has regularly used its status as the region’s only on-the-day publication to break big stories ahead of the competition.
For instance, in February 2013, it was able to publish five pages of same day coverage on the publication of the Francis report into poor health care provided at Stafford Hospital.
This week’s production changes – which are also being introduced at sister title the Shropshire Star – follow a restructure at the paper’s parent company the Midland News Association which has seen 76 jobs go across all departments.
They include 12 in editorial, 12 in advertising, 21 in circulation and 12 in transport.