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Islanders issue plea to publisher over weekly’s news content

Robert MacIntyreA councillor has urged a regional publisher to increase the number of local news pages in one of its weekly titles after organising a public meeting on the issue.

Around 70 people on the Scottish island of Bute attended the meeting to discuss the future of The Buteman, which is owned by Johnston Press.

The meeting was organised by Robert MacIntyre, who represents the island on Argyll and Bute Council, after hearing that the paper’s only reporter was leaving for a new job elsewhere.

Councillor MacIntyre, left, claims only around four pages are devoted to local news each week with the rest of the 24-page paper filled with content from JP’s other Scottish titles.

Johnston Press is currently advertising for a new reporter for The Buteman – but Councillor MacIntyre urged the publisher to increase the number based on the islands from one to two.

He said: “A community like Bute of just over 7,000 folks needs a local newspaper. We’re on an island and our situation is rather worrying.

“Folks realised something would need to be done to save The Buteman but what can be done, and what we can do, is rather problematic.”

He added: “It needs somebody with money to take it over, and somebody with a little knowledge of how to produce a newspaper. There’s hope, but not much.”

A Johnston Press spokeswoman said: “We understand concerns were raised about the future of The Buteman following the decision of our reporter based on the island to leave the position.

“We have no plans to close the title and have made this clear to the organiser of the public meeting and to others who have contacted us directly regarding the issue.

“We are currently advertising for a new reporter and look forward to announcing an appointment in due course.

“The island-based reporter receives a lot of support from other members of our editorial teams, as is the case for all our titles, and there are community reporters who also work on the title providing much appreciated content from its readers.”


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  • February 22, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Let’s hope JP listen to these not unreasonable requests from a community about the level, or lack of,local news in their island newspaper, many others would have voted with their feet at the poor local content but at least these folk are giving the publishers a chance.
    This however is a classic example of the easy route to filling once healthy local ‘news’ papers with generic weak shared content, items of little or no interest to other communities and towns and has no place in true community regional publishing, leave that to the nationals who do it much better
    Once you lose your main usp of being the go to source of hyper local news you have no reason to buy the paper and the drift away of readers will continue apace.
    Do the right thing for the islanders ( and your copy sales) JP and give them what they ask for or don’t be surprised if they stop buying the paper altogether.

    Proof of the pudding remains to be seen and JPs response will ultimately determine the outcome and future of this paper

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  • February 22, 2017 at 9:43 am

    This story is being replicated throughout JP’s poor excuse for local newspapers. If they improved their publications to an acceptable level, circulations would increase and so would advertising. I do sympathise with the people of Bute (I’ve spent wonderful holidays there). But I wouldn’t hold my breath for significant improvements there or anywhere else. I don’t blame the reporter for leaving. He was probably worked beyond endurance. I wish him well.

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  • February 22, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    This seems to be what none of the publishers are getting. I worked in areas from the North to the South overseeing over 500,000+ papers a week and regularly still speak to people in all of these areas. The genreral consensus is it’s a load of rubbish full of adverts and out of area stories so it goes straight in the bin or I don’t buy the paid for anymore for the same reasons. If that is the general consensus then why would anyone want to waste money on being in the paper?

    It’ll take someone brave with good ideas and a bit of investment to stand up and make some titles great again and prove that the income is there to off set it if you just re-engage your audience with what they want.

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  • February 22, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    An island with a population of 7,000 won’t be buying many papers. I’d be surprised if JP is breaking even.

    The circulation of The Buteman in 2014 was 2,875. Some of the residents will be children, others will live in homes where there are two or three adults so will only buy one paper for all of them to read.

    It’s possible that there isn’t much opportunity to expand the readership but keeping readers they already have is essential.
    JP runs generic features in many, if not all, its papers. We’ve been treated to info about places I’ve never heard of and have no interest in visiting. JP needs to set aside funds for more news reporters to get rid of this generic content which is just annoying.

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  • February 22, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    I hate the word ‘generic’. It sounds like an illness! Appropriate, perhaps, in the case of the JP contents…

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  • February 22, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    But they’re not advertising. If they were advertising we’d be able to see the advert. It’s not on Hold The Front Page, it’s not on the jobs link on the Buteman’s site. Why are they saying they’re advertising if they’re not?

    Quite fancy a gig as Bute’s only reporter. Will be able to turn my adventures into a BBC One Sunday evening drama.

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