AddThis SmartLayers

Printing locally would have ruined us, editor tells readers

A regional daily editor has responded to readers’ calls for his title to be printed locally after launching a listening exercise on how to improve the paper.

Yesterday’s Liverpool Echo splash bore only the phrase ‘#TellAli’ at the bottom of the page, with editor Alastair Machray encouraging the public to tweet him with suggestions on how to improve the paper.

Within hours of the project being launched, scores of readers had responded urging Alastair to bring the paper’s printing operation back to the city.

Printing of the Echo moved to Trinity Mirror’s plant in Chadderton, near Oldham seven years ago, resulting in jobs being lost in Liverpool.

Today's Echo front page

Today’s Echo front page

In response, Alastair published a piece on the Echo’s website in which he admitted the change had been made with a “heavy heart.”

He said the move to Oldham cost £8m while upgrading in Liverpool would have cost £22m.

Alastair added: “To stay would have been, literally, ruinous.  Sadly people did lose their jobs but the fact is that if we hadn’t made the change many, many more would have done so.

“What needs to be made clear is that it is only the final, physical printing process that takes place outside of Liverpool.

“All the journalists, all the local advertising staff are based here in Old Hall Street right in the heart of Liverpool.

“I couldn’t edit an Echo that wasn’t written in Liverpool. That’s where we are staying.”

The ‘#TellAli’ project will last 30 days while the Echo prepares for the relaunch at the end of the month.

A survey is also available online for readers to complete.

Said Alastair: “I have been a journalist for 36 years and seen many remarkable front pages. This is certainly one of them.

“I know it will raise eyebrows but what we are saying is that we want the people of Liverpool to tell us what they want to see in that big white space as well as in the rest of their paper.

“What is inescapable is that Liverpool has changed hugely and is unrecognisable from what it was 20 years ago. It is a city re-born, but a city with a remarkable past and without doubt an incredible future.

“We have brilliant, award-winning journalists here in our Liverpool city centre offices. We are proud of what we do but now we’re asking ourselves how we can do it even better and reflect the new Liverpool as well as we should.

“Regional newspapers like the Echo play a vital role in any community and therefore it’s essential the paper moves in the same direction as the city and its people.

“So I’m really keen to hear from everyone and anyone on Merseyside about what they want to read in their Echo every day – the type of news we should be reporting, the things we should be celebrating, the stories we should be telling.”


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • June 1, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Would the question “why have you stopped buying it ” be too simplistic?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(8)
  • June 1, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I seem to recall a similar “ask the readers” exercise being launched for the Liverpool Daily Post some years ago.

    Hmm. That went well.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(7)
  • June 1, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Could have at least put a picture of The Thriller in Manilla on the front. Poor form.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(2)
  • June 1, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    It’s sheer folly to expect readers to produce any consensus on what they want. The truth is, readers don’t know what they want – but they recognise it when they see it.
    Asking readers to do the editor’s job for him smacks of desperation. It translates as: We’ve run out of ideas – help!!!
    There is a simple formula for running good newspapers. Make them irresistible, with stimulating stories, courageous campaigns and no-nonsense, provocative comment. Make readers believe they’re bound to be missing something if they don’t buy the Echo.
    Liverpool is a big, vibrant city with great people and a great heritage. The place must be crawling with great stories, great features, great gossip, great sport, even great nostalgia pieces. Asking the average Scouser to write your news list is tantamount to abject surrender.
    It’s an editor’s job to come up with the ideas and engage journalists good enough to bring them to fruition.
    Sorry, but true.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(22)
  • June 2, 2015 at 7:21 am

    “Regional newspapers like the Echo play a vital role in any community and therefore it’s essential the paper moves in the same direction as the city and its people.”

    Yes, out of Liverpool and into Oldham.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(5)
  • June 2, 2015 at 8:49 am

    The Echo has neglected a large portion of what once made it a good read. It’s local sports coverage was once second to none, with the famous pink echo being printed hot on the heels of the end of the game itself.
    That was pulled, and the sports journalists there are now often several steps behinds to the likes of Dan Roan at the BBC.
    It’s website is filled with click bait and Tweeted pictures of sunsets over the three graces, with very little analysis of what’s actually happening in the city politically or socially.
    It used to run a column called ‘six and the city’ where vacuous types like Amanda Harrington were asked to give their opinion on shopping. There’s also a ‘clubbing’ column, a daily ‘where did you get your clothes from’ vox pop, and generally a lot of celebrity and gangster stories.
    The ECHO in the 80s and 90s was alive with top class investigative reporting, politics, sport, and produced some of the best writers in the land like Brian Reade.
    These days it’s just copy of Ok! magazine with another picture of Curtis Warren on the front.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(9)
  • June 2, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Old Snapper, has it occurred to you that your suggested question would be totally pointless? If the intended targets had stopped buying the paper they wouldn’t have seen the question! I’m not sure though that the actual plea will achieve a great deal.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • June 2, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Reminds me of our talking shop a few years back when chairman revealed results of a survey that showed 40 per cent of those interviewed had ceased reading the paper.
    “So we did not continue with those,” was the comment……

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • June 2, 2015 at 10:20 am

    After 36 years in journalism this editor should have a better idea of what his readers want. If he’s run out of ideas, hand over to someone who has some. The question needs to be how can we do better with the resources we’ve been left with by falling ad sales. The answer is probably go back to basics. Have a look at other successful dailies like the Express and Star and see what the top end of the industry is doing, and follow them.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(4)
  • June 2, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    This is a real u-turn in policy. Doesn’t the Liverpool Echo usually go round telling the rest of the country what to think and say?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • June 2, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    This FP and associated exercise appears to have worried some TM staff.

    With basis though?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • June 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    The beleaguered Trinity Mirror group was launched on the back of a Liiverpool-based buy-up of Roy Thomson regionals.
    But Thomson’s empowered and editorial-friendly MDs didn’t last long as TM appointed its own local management beancounters.
    Many of the new bosses failed to build on the previous empathy with
    Depressingly, the newsroom in TM’s home city flagship paper has now lost empathy with its readers.
    Ali’s white flag waving must be stomach-churning for the editorial troops..


    Report this comment

    Like this comment(1)