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Taking dailies weekly was ‘right thing to do’ says training chief

The decision to take two sister dailies weekly is “the right thing to do” according to a deputy editor-turned-journalism lecturer in the county they serve.

Paul Wiltshire, of the University of Gloucestershire, believes the switch, which came into effect last week, will give the Gloucestershire Echo and The Citizen, Gloucester, a “fighting chance” in print by giving editorial teams the time for “more analytical pieces”.

In a piece on his personal blog about the change, Paul also predicted that the number of daily regional titles which survive into the 2020s will be “limited indeed”.

Paul served as deputy editor of the Bath Chronicle when it made the switch from daily to weekly in 2007.

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On his blog, he wrote of that decision: “It was the right thing to do – and it was the right thing for the papers on my doorstep in Gloucestershire to do this week. Our industry’s fragile hold on its customers means that the number of daily regional titles which survive into the 2020s will be limited indeed.

“Time poverty, age profile and societal changes all conspire against six-day-a-week consumption of all printed products, but especially against regional ones. My children are 19 and 23, and have never bought a newspaper in their lives. I wonder if they ever will.

“Smaller regional titles risk becoming caught in a destructive vicious circle of price rises combined with anaemic yet overblown content thrown together by teams battling to hit web targets.”

As part of the changes, Trinity Mirror has launched a Gloucestershire edition of the Western Daily Press will be launched to cater for readers in the county who still want a daily print product.

But Paul warned “regional print as we know it will not last forever”.

He added: “Offering a weekly rather than daily product gives titles a bit more of a fighting chance. It ought to buy editorial teams the time for more analytical pieces, for writing that really sings, and for a decent sense of proportion that genuinely sees the wood for the trees.

“It would be simplistic and patronising to characterise this as nutritious, home-cooked fare in contrast to the e-number-packed fast food that keeps the Chartbeat {the system used by TM to monitor online performance] wolf from the door. But it is the sort of coverage that stands the greatest chance of building loyalty, of strengthening those gossamer-thin bonds with potential readers.

“I’m glad that my friends at the Echo and Citizen spent the first two days of their new weekly regime getting to know their readers at mini-roadshows.

“Because, as I have said before, we fear what we don’t know. If we can build both trust and loyalty, we can start to take our readers to new places, to challenge them to think differently and to consider fresh ideas.”


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  • October 17, 2017 at 10:17 am

    The circulation of these small dailies cannot support the level or quality of staff to justify their existence. some are down to sales of 10,000 a day in populations of 1.5 million or more. This is about 10 per cent of their sales at peak. Yup. 10 per cent! Many read like weeklies anyway quality-wise, so might as well go the whole hog.

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  • October 17, 2017 at 10:18 am

    I disagree Paul. Turning dailies weekly is followed by job cuts leaving no time for quality journalism. Also circulations continue to plummet – just look at JP. It turned dailies weekly when they were selling around 15,000. What followed was an initial surge in sales for the novelty factor and before long sales collapsed well below the 15,000 level – with just the one weekly sale – smaller papers, higher cover prices, continuous cost savings and reduced advertising. If turning dailies to weekly makes sense why has JP now allowed other papers to continue as dailies with sales well below 15,000?

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  • October 18, 2017 at 7:44 am

    More Ivory Tower thinking, I’m afraid. At no point in recent years have I seen evidence of consistent decent analytical features. What I am experiencing is bored, weak retreads of news in the hell-for-leather chase of anything digital.
    Trinity Mirror’s features offer is absolutely terrible. A one size fits all, written hundreds of miles away from circulation areas – and teams, a mere shadow of the days when quality counted – are told it’s not their remit to write features. Unless something really big has happened and even then, it’s not about quality and real analysis. Just space-filling.
    To the newspaper owners, end the constant fear we’ll be the next out of the door – instill loyalty and a belief among staff that all the gump you spew out is true. Put readership and communities first, invest in titles, invest in quality journalism. Give journalists time to find real exclusives rather than what’s out their on social media or coming in via police and council press releases.
    The ‘Yes Men and Women’ running papers are bad enough, but I guess Paul and his ilk still have to pedal the myth that there will be jobs and careers to the thousands signing up for journalism courses each year.

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  • October 18, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    In my experience tuning failing dailies into weeklies is an initial cost saving exercise which temporarily saves a few pounds however it’s a step in the bigger plan which usually results in the ( paid for )paper going free, becoming digital only or simply closing, daily to eeekly has never been the answer in itself

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