As reported yesterday, the first edition of the CN Group-produced ’24’ hit newsstands with a print run in excess of 30,000 copies.
But former Northern Echo boss Peter Barron described 24’s decision to market itself as ‘The North’s National’ as “cobblers”, after being unable to find a copy in six County Durham newsagents yesterday.
The new title’s circulation area covers a large swathe of the North-West – from Preston in the south to Lockerbie in the north and Workington in the west to Hexham in the east – but not the North-East.
Peter stood down as Echo editor after 17 years in April, but still writes a column for the paper, which markets itself as ‘The Great Daily of The North.’
In a piece on 24’s launch for the Echo’s website yesterday, he said none of the retailers he visited in search of a copy had heard of the new venture.
Wrote Peter: “There’s more chance of spotting Lord Lucan sitting on a County Durham park bench, thumbing through a copy of Hello magazine.
“So let’s be honest about this. This isn’t a grand launch of a new ‘national newspaper for the north’. It’s a ridiculous claim.
“It’s a paper for bits of the North-West, relying almost entirely on the Press Association, which, like everyone else, has had its editorial resources cut.
“In the end, newspapers past, present and future, live or die on the foundation of editorial quality. People aren’t mugs.”
However one of Peter’s predecessors as Echo editor, Peter Sands, has praised CN’s new venture.
Peter helped design 24’s 40-page dummy edition for the company prior to its launch.
In a piece for his personal blog, he wrote: “The best argument against it seems to be that, as Trinity Mirror’s New Day closed after nine weeks and The Independent could no longer sustain a print edition, then nobody should ever launch a newspaper.
“Really? Are they saying that those regional groups seeing their traditional newspapers heading towards oblivion and struggling to make money out of digital, should just do nothing? Is inertia and avoiding risk at all costs the only way forward? Should they just get out of publishing altogether and invest their money in property or an offshore account?
“CN has now added to its portfolio – it owns three daily papers, whereas last week it owned two. It is using its existing resources cleverly and with innovation. What strikes me about the 24 journalists is their confidence, commitment and enthusiasm. Those are commodities sometimes hard to find in newspapers these days.
“Of course it won’t be easy and editor Mike Haworth knows he has a tough job. But the industry and those shouting from the sidelines should get behind CN’s venture – and will it to succeed. Who knows… it may even become a model for others.”
HTFP has approached the CN Group for a comment.