The newly-appointed editor of a regional daily is urging readers to take a “fresh look” at the paper in a bid to reverse one of the biggest circulation declines in the industry over recent years.
Brighton daily The Argus has relaunched today with a fresh design and “bold new features”.
Over the past six years, the paper has seen its circulation more than halve, falling from an average sale of 30,070 in the second half of 2008 to 13,309 in the same period in 2014.
One of Mike’s first moves was to employ a graphic designer to come up with a brand new look for the Newsquest-owned title.
There will be no cover price rise as a result of the relaunch, which was plugged with a front cover wrap in yesterday’s edition, and the title will remain a daily publication.
Among the changes to The Argus’s content will be three new sections which are set to appear daily as double-page spreads – SpotlightArgus, DebateArgus and LifeArgus.
According to the newspaper, SpotlightArgus will give “in-depth analysis and investigation or the inside story”, DebateArgus will be an expanded version of the current letters page with a host of regular columnists, and LifeArgus will be “a surprise every day” featuring human interest stories.
Said Mike: “I’m immensely proud to be heading this great publishing institution in its 135th year.
“This week we take another step in our evolution. With the relaunch, we’ve given it some new bold features and a fresh lick of paint.
“We believe the newspaper has more coherence and a better flow and with extra summary panels and fact boxes on stories to ensure readers get even more information than before.
“One thing, of course won’t change. That is our determination to give readers the best news service possible. Whatever we do we do with them in mind.”
As reported on HTFP earlier this month, Mike told guests at a lunch celebrating The Argus’s 135th anniversary he wanted to put the paper at the “centre of the debate”.
According to February’s ABC Figures, The Argus’s circulation stood at 13,309 for the period July to December 2014, down 12.2pc on the same period the previous year.
The relaunch has been welcomed by media commentator Roy Greenslade, who had urged the paper to go “up-market” ahead of Mike’s appointment.
On his Media Guardian blog, he wrote: “The front page is a vast improvement, with a new typeface, the adoption of an upper-and-lower case splash headline, and much cleaner lines than before.
“And the same is true of the inside design. In layout terms, it’s a winner. It has the appearance of a mid-market ‘compact’ rather than a down-market ‘tabloid’.
“As for the content, although outsiders may find its call for action to ‘save our seafronts’ somewhat strange, it will be very popular with residents and local business owners who have become increasingly concerned about the decades of decline.”
Roy added: “If Gilson can keep this up, if Newsquest keep providing the resources, if the paper is properly promoted over the next month, then he might just stop the rot.
“And that, in current circumstances, would be a triumph.”