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Newspaper to go online-only after 139 years in print

A weekly newspaper is to cease print publication after 139 years next week after it was decided to take the title online-only.

The South Yorkshire Times, which covers the Mexborough and Dearne Valley area between Rotherham and Doncaster, will publish its final print edition on Thursday 15 December.

The Johnston Press-owned paper, first published in 1877, says it “no longer makes sense” to publish a weekly print edition in an “internet and social media age.”

It set out the changes in an editorial published in this week’s edition which hit the streets today.

It read: “Next week’s South Yorkshire Times will be the last printed edition of the newspaper. From next week our readers will be able to find all the news for this area on our popular website at www.southyorkshiretimes.co.uk instead.

“In an internet and social media age producing a weekly print version of the South Yorkshire Times no longer makes sense for most readers. They prefer to obtain all their breaking news as it happens on our website with updates across social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

“By moving the Times online it means that our journalists can spend more time working on the most popular digital platforms. However we are committed to keep working in your area. To report the news as it happens.

“We would like to issue a heartfelt thank you to all of our readers and advertisers for their continued support of the Times over many years. We hope, if you do not already read the Times online, that you will do so in the future – for it is within the digital arena that your Times will continue to live and serve the community.

“In the coming weeks we will also be considering how we can feature more news from the Dearne Valley and South Yorkshire region within the pages of our sister newspaper, the Doncaster Free Press, which already covers much of the region.

“The final edition of the Times will be published next Thursday, December 15, with all your usual news, sport and features.”

The Times has been run from the Free Press offices in Doncaster since 2012 when its own office in Mexborough closed.

A year earlier, journalists at the paper went on strike for eight weeks over a reorganisation which saw the then editor, Jim Oldfield, made redundant.

SYTfront

A 2011 edition of the Times which covered the strike by its own journalists on the front page.

14 comments

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  • December 8, 2016 at 1:49 pm
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    “….it no longer makes sense” to publish a weekly print edition in an “internet and social media age.”

    Whilst this is a piece about one specific title this view cannot be taken in isolation.
    As bitter a pill as it is to swallow it does make sense as this will save huge costs on production,print and distribution alone and will be,I believe the opening of the floodgates for other publishers to follow suit with their own under performing and poorly selling papers.

    In the east where weekly paper sales are on the floor yet still incur huge costs to produce this approach would make sense,especially as movement has been taking place for sometime to switch the emphasis from paper to online.
    When costs are examined as in any business, the under performing areas need action and redress

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  • December 8, 2016 at 3:09 pm
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    You could make this argument about any local newspaper. Expect to see more of this in 2017.

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  • December 9, 2016 at 8:49 am
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    Unfortunately print hasn’t simply died….it has been murdered by the likes of JP. If you put out a rubbish product then of course the public won’t buy it. There is still life left in print for a well produced local paper, but not as part of a big company whose only care is the bottom line and shareholders. In local news one size does NOT fit all. Digital does not suit everything. Where the ads are going to come from i just don’t know. Staff at the other JP weeklies should pray that smaller local companies come in and buy them in the current JP sale. Small is beautiful and the way forward.

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  • December 9, 2016 at 10:19 am
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    The SYT is a institution in the local area with a very high percentage of elderly readers who have bought the paper religiously each week,how many will have the access or knowledge of how to visit the web site? In a instance JP have wiped out for many the only way they can keep in touch with their community.

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  • December 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm
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    The question has oft been posed on here all through 2016; what will the regional press landscape look like in a years time and how many papers currently publishing,most running at a loss, will still be in existence in a years time?”
    This is the first clear indication that 2017 will see vast majority of ailing daily and eeekky titles running as digital on line versions only or loses altogether.
    2016 has seen vast change,2017 will see it changed beyond all recognition.

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  • December 9, 2016 at 1:05 pm
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    Unfortunately, this suggests that the ‘divestment strategy’ isn’t a bed of roses.

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  • December 9, 2016 at 2:41 pm
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    As we haven’t heard anything about the Eskdale and Liddesdale search for a buyer, I assume that this will be one of two papers closing next week.

    The Advertiser’s last edition was due to be 14 December if no one came forward to take it over. I don’t think much should be read into the fact that the paper is still offering subscriptions on its website http://www.eladvertiser.co.uk/home/subscriptions

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  • December 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm
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    I used to edit this venerable product and find it sad news.

    “In the coming weeks we will also be considering how we can feature more news from the Dearne Valley and South Yorkshire region within the pages of our sister newspaper, the Doncaster Free Press, which already covers much of the region.

    I was also Editor of the DFP before JP bought it and we tried to attract Dearne readers from the JP-owned SYT with special a Dearne edition. Guess what:? We pulled the plug after less than a year because sales didn’t increase one iota. What did increase was our costs!! People from the Mexborough area have a historic hatred of Doncaster and look towards Rotherham.

    You have enough of a battle with plummeting DFP sales. Add news from the Dearne Valley and you will only accelerate things!!!!

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  • December 11, 2016 at 8:56 pm
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    May I point out that under Jim’s editorship the SYT was an innovative, controversial and, above all, extremely entertaining paper? What’s happened to it since has been a tragedy. It had a real connection with its readers and the local community – the loss of which I think is the real cause of the decline of local journalism. Seriously – if you write good tales that people care about then you’ll sell papers, even in this post-online climate. Somehow we’ve forgotten that, God knows why…
    (Must declare an interest – Jim is a very good friend of mine, but i’d write the above even if I’d never met him.)

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  • December 12, 2016 at 1:51 am
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    It is heart-breaking news. Many national newspaper journalists started out on this once highly-respected paper. I wonder if Johnston execs know how successful the newspaper once was, selling 50,000 copies weekly across several editions. The paper has died from neglect. In recent years there has been no representation in Mexborough where the paper was born and based. Pure madness. The Turner family, who founded the newspaper, will be spinning in their graves.

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  • December 12, 2016 at 11:15 am
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    It is very sad news about the SYT which was once the biggest selling weekly newspaper in South Yorkshire with a peak circulation of 55,000.
    As my old friend Rob Firth says in this column the SYT produced some fine journalists who moved on to the nationals in Manchester, London and New York.
    Sir Michael Parkinson also started his journalistic career on the South Yorkshire Times at the same time as myself and we were colleagues on different editions before doing our National Service in the Royal Army Pay Corps.

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  • December 12, 2016 at 5:16 pm
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    It is a mercy killing really. JP have sucked all the life out of a once-great title, and like some dried-up milk-cow are having it put down.
    The rot set in the moment JP took over, and despite the efforts of Brian Kelly to maintain standards, the money men won every time.
    I had hoped JP would offer the title for sale, to someone who might actually care about it, but they are determined to wring every last drop of blood out of it online. Newsagents used to judge sales by the height of their piles of newsprint each Friday (6 feet in one I know of), now they count sales on one hand.

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  • December 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm
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    Very sad day but not surprising given its slow, lingering and so cruel strangulation at the hands of JP executives who never understood, or even tried to understand or develop its unique place in the Dearne Valley community. I, like some of the earlier commentators, worked for over 20 years on this once family-run title, and was proud to have worked alongside some excellent journalists, many of whom went on to achieve brilliant careers thanks to the early excellent training they received. “Online” might just as well be “on the moon” for most of its remaining readers. Heart-breakingly for those of us who remember and enjoyed the good times, it’s RIP for the SYT.

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