Veteran newspaper publisher Sir Ray Tindle has delivered a vote of confidence in the local press as he explained why he has bought three more weekly papers.
Sir Ray is among the contributors to a new book about the future of journalism, extracts of which are being serialised on HoldtheFrontPage this week.
In his chapter, he delivers an upbeat assessment of the industry’s future saying that although it may not have reached the end of the revenue downturn, there will always be a need for local news,
Writes Sir Ray: “Several people have asked why I bought the three weekly papers on the Isle of Man in the summer of 2016. First of all they are very good papers – with clearly superb management, excellent editors and obviously a first-class staff.
“Secondly, they go back a long way. They are even older (by six years) than the Farnham Herald which was launched in 1892.
“Thirdly, I am convinced all established local papers will survive and prosper but these Isle of Man examples were particularly attractive and had a good record over the years. I doubt if there’s a better investment obtainable these days than good local papers.
“To a very large extent the Isle of Man papers will be managed locally. Half the board of this company is now and while in our ownership will always be made up of local people we believe this I.O.M. company will fit in happily with our philosophy.”
On the prospects for the industry more generally, he added: “We’ve come through this dreadful seven year recession still not owing a penny and still not so far having made a single journalist compulsorily redundant.
“We’ve had some voluntary redundancy and we haven’t automatically replaced those who have left and, of course, it should be said we are by no means at the end of this revenue downturn.
“I am convinced local weekly papers will be with us for a very long time, though maybe with reorganised cost structures. Everyone wants to read about their own community, and they want to read about it in depth. That’s what we do.”
Sir Ray’s chapter, entitled Newspapers – the fightback, can be read in full here.