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Ex-editor rubbishes new daily’s claim to be North’s ‘national’

Barron newA former regional editor has branded as “ridiculous” a new newspaper’s claim to be a national daily for the North.

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.

33 comments

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  • June 21, 2016 at 8:20 am
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    The concept of the “news”paper is so ridiculous that there must be some real reason for its launch. Some purpose that only accountants understand.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:01 am
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    So Barron’s critique is that the paper isn’t on sale where it said it wouldn’t be?
    If he’s feeling irascible and bored in retirement, shouldn’t he also try to buy the Northern Echo on the opposite side of the Pennines?

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:10 am
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    Nice attempt at spinning it from Peter Sands…
    ‘CN has now added to its portfolio – it owns three daily papers, whereas last week it owned two.’
    Or you could say…
    ‘CN has decided to risk the profitability of its existing structure with an expensive new product that nobody is crying out for.’
    You can use the same advertising staff and distribution network all you like… you still have to pay to print 30,000 newspapers a day and the wages of two subs.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:30 am
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    Why such negativity ? I’m sure if Mr Barron asks his local news agent to order a copy he will be able to do so. Sour grapes ?

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:31 am
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    The first issue was poor. Dull in content, all over the place in design. It seems to want to be Metro. But that’s free, this is 40p. Nobody is going to pay 40p for this for any meaningful period of time. It’s 95 per cent PA so just follow PA on Twitter instead. That’s up to date as well.
    The ads appear to be largely Cumbrian, so even though this is an accountants exercise, not a journalistic one, I wonder if it will ever earn money. CN clearly think it will earn enough before they close it to make it a worthwhile project, but we will see..

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:32 am
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    Hmmm! I’m pretty sure that for a large part – if not all – of Peter’s reign the Northern Echo was branded below the masthead as “The Great Daily of the North”. Despite this, you’d struggle to buy a copy anywhere in Cumbria – or Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Hull, Bradford etc. “The North’s National”, “The Great Daily of the North”. Spot the difference!

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:44 am
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    Ned Stark has branded a newspaper’s claims to be the newspaper of the North ‘cobblers’.
    Stark, first lord of Winterfell, was unable to find a copy of the newspaper anywhere north of Deepwood Mot.
    ‘This is Lannister propaganda pure and simple’ said Stark, ‘to think that the Umbers and Karstarks would go anywhere near a publication with this much PA copy is, quite frankly, ridiculous.’

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:45 am
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    I must confess to being very surprised that Peter Sands is not a regular reader of HTFP. If he was he would have seen many coherent, detailed and reasonable opinions as to why this launch was unlikely to work.

    Those opinions – my own humble contributions included (stop laughing at the back) – are by experienced journalists who have seen many changes in the industry, understand commercial needs, costs and the challenges ahead.

    Absolutely no one on here has said that print is so dead that no one should ever consider a launch again. On the contrary, I certainly that print does have a future… hence my questions about why Peter [Sands] thought this was a good design.

    I really am fascinated to learn who their target market is beyond that is Northerner.

    But why does this matter in the greater scheme of things? Here’s why, because every foolish failed new adventure in print puts off potential future investors.

    Projects like New Day were gormless from the get go. I sincerely hope I am wrong with this one, although it flies in the face of my own theory that papers must go upmarket to succeed in the future.

    PS I notice that Farrow & Ball didn’t have the prime front page advertising slot.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:48 am
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    One more thing, can any in the circulation area, tell me if they managed to get the England result in last night?

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  • June 21, 2016 at 10:05 am
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    I fear there is no such thing as a ‘Northern’ community. The people of Carlisle have little in common with the people of Workington, never mind Preston or Lancaster. Give it 8 weeks? Sorry to be so negative but I just don’t think there’s a compelling reason to buy it.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 10:32 am
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    If that was referenced to me AJ, the answer is nope, I’m really quite content.

    In fact I’ve always had a very high regard for CN, purely as a reader, I’ve never worked for them.

    I suppose when you see an industry you love crumbling, you have two options: sit back and watch it happen; try and make a noise and hope someone out there is listening.

    Forgive me for doing the second. And yes, I would consider the second… even though it would probably require a pay cut.

    If that wasn’t aimed at me, ummm, carry on as you were…

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  • June 21, 2016 at 11:31 am
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    “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.”

    Can we please get one thing clear? Despite the best efforts of the CN Group (and various media outlets who seem to be accepting this nonsense) Lockerbie in particular and Dumfries and Galloway in general is not “in the north” of anything. It is in the south-west of Scotland.

    To describe it as being “in the north” and being served by “The North’s National” is plainly wrong and bordering on insulting. Perhaps CN have realised this due to the distinct lack of Dumfries and Galloway stories – I’ve counted one over two days.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 11:48 am
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    Not quite sure what Peter Barron is trying to achieve with this piece. Bringing a rival paper to the attention of a readership presumably largely ignorant of its existence until now? Done. Engaging Northern Echo readers in a debate about the state of the newspaper industry and its future? Err…

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  • June 21, 2016 at 11:50 am
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    Can’t get a copy where I live and can’t find a 24 website either.
    I really HOPE it succeeds but it doesn’t look like a very promising start.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 11:58 am
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    Bang, slice, more slicing and cutting sounds, distant cries of woe…. These are the constant noises i hear on a weekly basis to my beloved industry.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm
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    I looked in 15 newsagents and none of them stocked it and I live in North London

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  • June 21, 2016 at 1:39 pm
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    Well said Peter Barron. Cobblers sums it up.

    Barron has no axe to grind and he’s spot on. As I said on another comment, I’ll be surprised if it lasts a month.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 1:46 pm
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    It is a bit Cumbria centric not taking into account the places where it sell!. It is only the first edition though so hopefully be more further reaching than just Cumbria next time. Otherwsie it might just as well be the ‘Cumbrian National’

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  • June 21, 2016 at 2:45 pm
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    Er, am I missing something here? I thought national meant…well, national. Not regional.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 2:49 pm
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    Percy Hoskins, England pic on front, splash on back, match report, player ratings, five things we learnt, Cahill reaction and a focus on Daniel Sturridge’s display, plus Wales Russia report.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 3:47 pm
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    There’s only ever been one story in Lockerbie since Jesus was a lad. And I was there.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 5:03 pm
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    Thanks Beatle, well that’s pretty good, am impressed by that.

    And Rambler, I think you can have a national newspaper with an emphasis away from London. Our national media is too concentrated in the South, most – if not all – of the big nationals have done away with their northern offices and reduced their news teams down to a rump, relying, ironically on PA and a few agencies.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that this isn’t a laudable idea, it is the execution that concerns me. And matters aren’t helped because it is being done on the cheap, with no reporting staff there will be no exclusives.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 5:40 pm
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    Peter Barron speaks his truths. He can’t help doing it. It is his nature. How many of the critics above have done for newspapers and journalism what Peter has? When you critics have added up the stuff on your cv and it amounts to anything like Peter’s, perhaps you will post it online. You will soon get a better job. Peter’s comments are communication with YOU: the vast majority of you are not readers of The Northern Echo.
    Only a few of the above have recognised that. That is disappointing.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:21 pm
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    I’m on holiday in Cumbria at the end of July so I look forward to picking up a copy of the newspaper – so CN please hold on until I arrive!

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  • June 21, 2016 at 9:24 pm
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    David Kelly I salute you. What a fantastic comment. I’m with you 100% about The Barron. Sadly, my comments regarding Peter Sands’ stout defence of this new product fell foul of the HTFP censors. They often do unfortunately.

    I fall firmly into the Peter Barron camp when it comes to telling it like it is. Sometimes the truth hurts.

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  • June 21, 2016 at 10:56 pm
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    What has Peter Barron done for journalism? What was the circulation of the Echo when he became editor and what was it when he left?

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  • June 21, 2016 at 11:09 pm
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    Ian Halstead of Shropshire, you really could find the positive in anything.
    However, you clearly can’t find your way around the Pennines.

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  • June 22, 2016 at 2:44 pm
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    I see the Barron fan club is out in force again. Harry Blackwood and David Kelly who can see nothing wrong with Barron. Well said Northern Hack the Echo’s circulation fell heavily under Barron who doesn’t have the star CV David Kelly likes to think he does

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  • June 22, 2016 at 7:44 pm
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    You can’t even purchase this title in Hexham which has the CN owned Hexham Courant. North North-West national more like it

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  • June 22, 2016 at 9:30 pm
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    John, I’ll have a little bet with you. Me, Barron, Kelly and you compare CVs. Guess what? You’re last.

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  • June 29, 2016 at 8:41 pm
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    Harry,you are still looking foolish tub thumping for Barron. He is not the star you’d like him to be

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