AddThis SmartLayers

Two weeklies set to close as publisher launches new monthly paper

Two weekly newspapers are to close next month and another will be absorbed by a sister paper in a shake-up that will also see the launch of a new monthly title.

Johnston Press has announced the last editions of the Beverley Guardian and Driffield Times & Post will be published on 15 September, while the Malton & Pickering Mercury will become an edition of the Scarborough News.

The changes, which will not result in any job losses, will see the Mercury retain its masthead and several change pages of local news and sport.

An as yet unnamed new free monthly title covering Bridlington, Scarborough, Driffield, Beverley and Filey will be launched by JP on 5 September to “allow advertisers greater exposure across a larger audience” across North and East Yorkshire.

The Beverley Guardian, one of two newspapers set to close next month

The Beverley Guardian, one of two newspapers set to close next month

The changes come after JP launched a review into its operations earlier this year to ensure its titles were “serving their communities effectively and profitably.”

The Times & Post, created after a merger of the Driffield Times and Driffield Post in 2011, was listed as a “core” title by the group in a list published earlier this year.

The company said in a statement: “Earlier this year we announced a review of our portfolio, which looked to ensure our titles are serving their communities effectively and profitably.

“Making sure our newsrooms are properly structured in order to maintain and grow audiences has also been a key priority as we continue to transform the business whilst managing commercial challenges.

“Certain brands within the portfolio have a better opportunity to succeed and we need to invest in and resource these brands accordingly.

“This means, as we outlined earlier this year, that changes will be made to the portfolio. On this occasion the changes affect the Beverley Guardian, the Malton & Pickering Mercury and the Driffield Times & Post. There will be no job losses as a result.”

Jeremy Clifford, JP editor-In-chief, added: “Our approach is to give our titles the best chance of showing consistent growth in audience numbers while taking into account factors such as their size, location and the local economic climate. Some titles will be better placed than others to do this and these are the ones we need to focus on.

“Our portfolio will continue to evolve as we make informed decisions about the resources we have available and, most importantly, take steps to improve the company’s overall performance.”

25 comments

You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • August 10, 2016 at 8:42 am
    Permalink

    While the company is busy ‘evolving’ its portfolio – as if it was some sort of Pokemon – now is a great time for a few journalists to band together and move in on these patches.
    Efficient, lean operations without bloated and pointless management structures can succeed. There’s plenty of experience and talent out there, let’s hope someone can make it work as JP continues to retreat.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(35)
  • August 10, 2016 at 9:01 am
    Permalink

    Sounds like the same script Archant trotted out when they closed the norwich advertiser to save distribution costs and ‘launched’ an exciting new mirror image paper the Norwich extra ( or some such name) the same day, that was thrown together too.
    Round and round they go

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(10)
  • August 10, 2016 at 9:01 am
    Permalink

    Beverley is locked up by the Hull Daily Mail. No idea why JP stopped the Guardian as a free drop and replaced it with a paid for paper.

    Driffield (I used to live near there) is not really big enough to support a paper of its own. Most people either buy the HDM, the Yorkshire Post or JP’s Brid Free Press

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(9)
  • August 10, 2016 at 9:09 am
    Permalink

    This is just the start. More closures will follow and jobs will be slashed. Good people will be thrown on the scrap heap as those running the company lurch from one crisis to another.

    It’s not that long ago that the CEO was telling investors of bold plans to take JP’s market capitalisation to £300m. It now stands at less than 10% of that.

    Share price has fallen to less than 10p and yesterday there was a share selling frenzy with over a million JP shares dumped.

    If someone can explain to me how Ashley Highfield and his fellow members of the management team are still in jobs I’d be very grateful. This is a serious question BTW as I’m genuinely baffled.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(37)
  • August 10, 2016 at 9:11 am
    Permalink

    User Generated Comment is right. It’s the “bloated and pointless management structures” that contribute absolute zero in hard revenue terms that need to be dissolved. Even the corporates could devolve into local hubs without all these wasters and be healthier (financially) for it. Let’s embrace a truly radical future and not pretend live-blogging a McDonald’s opening is a viable way forward. It ain’t!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(30)
  • August 10, 2016 at 9:40 am
    Permalink

    A monthly “news” paper is an oxymoron.

    “History book” would be nearer the mark.

    It’s all very well “allowing advertisers greater exposure” but even if that were true – which self-evidently it is not – what about the poor bloody readers?

    Who wants “news” that could be up to four weeks old?

    No one.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(21)
  • August 10, 2016 at 10:02 am
    Permalink

    Desperate move from Johnston Press and I can only see this going one way for them. It seems this is almost a retaliation to titles such as the Driffield Wolds and Weekly forming along with the new Bridlington Echo that featured recently. It will no doubt be bloated with Press Releases from various outlets and serve no real purpose.
    More titles will undoubtedly close and this is no doubt a way of JP to slowly close the doors on what has been a sinking ship for a long period of time but do so in some kind of ‘we tried’ fashion.

    Poor move JP, and apologies to those staff members of JP that will no doubt feel the effects of this, my advice – Get out whilst you can!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(11)
  • August 10, 2016 at 10:03 am
    Permalink

    @ Harry: It baffles me that Highfield is still there as I would think the easy way to create a market bounce and to reassure investors would be to bring in a new CEO.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(13)
  • August 10, 2016 at 10:09 am
    Permalink

    More sad times. I know that times move on but cannot believe that so many titles are disappearing even though the internet is having a knock on effect. Plenty of people in my part of the world still like to read a paper and not a freebie filled with ads or puffs.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(3)
  • August 10, 2016 at 10:39 am
    Permalink

    Bluestringer: I very much doubt there will be any “news” – four weeks old or even last week’s – in it. It will be purely lifestyle stuff, mostly paid-for, and a load of listings.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(6)
  • August 10, 2016 at 10:41 am
    Permalink

    Management hubs, Dick Minim? Now there’s a great idea. Let’s outsource it to Mumbai under a Tupe agreement!

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(6)
  • August 10, 2016 at 10:49 am
    Permalink

    bluestringer is right: what on earth is the point of a monthly ‘news’ paper? And, as we all know, it won’t actually contain proper news anyway. Clickbait may appear perennial, but the penny has yet to drop that readers aren’t remotely stupid and left in their droves years ago. Some complain about the negative tone of comments on this website, but frankly there is nothing to be optimistic about when it comes to large publishing operations.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(10)
  • August 10, 2016 at 11:18 am
    Permalink

    Very frustrating. It’s not that most of the products are defunct, but the corporate business model is no longer fit for purpose in the marketplace. There… some management speak, and to continue… if these businesses were really “agile” they would identify that their corporate structure is the sticking point.
    Unfortunately, the people with the power are not those trying against the odds to keep journalism at the forefront. None of the big cheeses is going to turn round and say “Hey, I’ve worked it out, we need to get rid of of a couple of tiers of us.”
    Ticks bleeding the poor animal to death, sadly.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(12)
  • August 10, 2016 at 11:36 am
    Permalink

    Wordsmith;
    The trouble is majority of once credible ‘news’ papers have evolved into free sheets stuffed full of cheap adverts as the priority has changed from providing a credible news service to one of chasing all and any revenue it can get its hands on irrespective of devaluing the product. Certainly here in Norfolk the quality long ago went as papers turned from valued daily and weekly publications to ad grabbers which faked to grab add and only served to alienate and lose its market

    Way of the world and with no way back

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(13)
  • August 10, 2016 at 11:44 am
    Permalink

    Er, don’t think you’ve quite picked up the thread here, Corporal. I have in mind local offices, lightly but adequately staffed with multi-skilled operators (journalistic/sales SWAT teams), reporting to one regional MD who would then report directly to the chief executive. Online doesn’t make as much cash as print did in its prime but it does make some. It could support a leaner business model cleaned out of the civil service-like layers of bureaucracy that weigh down corporations. Let’s get everyone directly involved in profit-making, not just an increasingly embattled few subsidising wasters who sit gawping at the Mail Online all day, for example.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(12)
  • August 10, 2016 at 12:18 pm
    Permalink

    Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, it does!
    This could be the next step in the nosedive to oblivion.
    Daily becomes weekly becomes monthly… Don’t tell Trinity Mirror about this or the slaughter on the newsfloor will accelerate even faster.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(9)
  • August 10, 2016 at 12:58 pm
    Permalink

    Thank the Lord I no longer plough my furrow in local newspapers but I have every sympathy for those who do.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(11)
  • August 10, 2016 at 5:21 pm
    Permalink

    As was said in another context when you count more than 20 “editor” (I use the word loosely) titles at a newsroom and only about three news reporters you get the feeling that more once-excellent JP papers in their own right are going to become slip pages in a semi-regional weekly or, heaven forbid, monthly. All through no fault of their own. In the context of journalism only, because there are worse things going on in the world, this is a tragedy.
    The paper of the people, in other words badly edited or usually unedited contributed copy that is over-written waffle with dreadful style and grammar just doesn’t wash with readers. You can fool some of the people…….but not enough.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(2)
  • August 10, 2016 at 6:06 pm
    Permalink

    Sorry but… A monthly ‘news’ publication can succeed. In between regional editorships I started two A4 Quarterfolds in small towns. Just me and my then partner (she looked after the ads brilliantly). Part time for both of us. Succeeded because we concentrated on hyper local news that the evening paper ignored. Plus kids’ sport, competitions with very local winners, very local crime news, town council reports, very local planning application etc etc. Advertisers were offered sensible rates and liked the very local audience. Eventually we accepted a very generous offer from a well-known group, who have since destroyed what we worked so hard to create, by getting the staff of one of their papers to add it to their workload. With no extra pay. So no commitment obviously. There is a very local future though for those who dare.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(6)
  • August 10, 2016 at 6:54 pm
    Permalink

    I often read in HTFP of ways and means in which JP must make a profit. The first rule in business is a quality, a principal that went out the boardroom window many years ago. Poor old Northern Ireland is reportedly the final area to be infested by Newsroom of the Future. May the Lord help you over there, across the Irish Sea. It’s the final nail in your coffin, prior to burial.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(6)
  • August 11, 2016 at 9:00 am
    Permalink

    This is nothing to do with news. It’s all about advertising.
    New centralised telephone sales coupled with a core of a few field sales execs doesn’t seem to be working. Ashley said as much in his half-year results presentation and JP’s rate of decline is worse than the market.
    Calling on the phone every month isn’t the answer, no matter how sophisticated the CRM is.
    They miss the new shop opening, the chat about the 50th anniversary or the next venture by the local entrepreneur. Sales people in Sheffield can’t go to the new car launch evening or the chamber of trade meeting.
    It might happen everywhere eventually, but JP are artificially accelerating the demise of the local paper.
    The Board need a plan and quick. Bond repayment and cashflow problems appear to be just around the corner.
    Slashing head office costs must be the main prong. What people don’t realise is that the company survives despite London, not because of it.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(7)
  • August 11, 2016 at 9:27 am
    Permalink

    quality is a must. Readers are stupid.
    Some of the reporters on JP need to be taken to one side and instructed on style and grammar. eg Oneintro on a routine crime story from a cops handout on my paper’s website ends …”the force said” with no reference to which force it was. OK, not earth shattering, but only one small example of sloppy writing that it not being edited. JP really has to get back to basics, and quickly.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(3)
  • August 11, 2016 at 9:58 am
    Permalink

    Voice of reason
    Without a credible product the sales people,whether on foot or desk bound have little or no chance of selling ads into papers so few are buying
    in my direct experience much of the regular advertising these days is either tied into a desperate annual contract which gives volume but completely destroys the yield,dumbs down the papers as they become increasingly filled with badly designed ads thrown together without thought to effectiveness just to reach a target and get an out of their depth ‘manager’ off the sales reps back and turn readers off fed up of having to hunt for news which is already out of dates soon ss it’s published
    .
    One ad manager told a colleague and I ” we are expected to get unachievable targets with people who don’t want to be here and are looking to get out, through selling adverts that don’t work into papers that no ones buying’
    He’s happy to play the yes man card and take the money knowing his chances of a similar cushy number outside of the company are slim ,but with that kind of ‘leadership’ what hope for the future

    Sadly his summary of the commercial view is correct though

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(3)
  • August 11, 2016 at 5:30 pm
    Permalink

    It’s end game time. There will be a sudden acceleration of closures and sell-offs in a desperate attempt to keep the house of cards going.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(2)
  • August 11, 2016 at 5:40 pm
    Permalink

    Monthly works extremely well in the Outer Hebrides where Am Pàipear serves a relatively small number of people (approximately 4500). I think it’s about having the correct business model (it won’t make a fortune but can sustain a valuable service for a community) and the correct approach to news gathering and reporting. More details here:

    http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2016/news/editor-urges-communities-to-launch-own-newspapers/

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(2)