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Publisher to reopen reception desks at recently-acquired weeklies

BarryP-e14140674746162A regional publisher which took over a clutch of weekly titles earlier this year is to reopen a number of newspaper reception desks which were closed by their previous owner.

Iliffe Media purchased 13 weeklies in East Anglia from Johnston Press in January for £17m.

Now it has announced it is reopening a number of reception desks previously closed by JP as part of a programme of re-investment in the papers.

The first title to benefit is the Bury Free Press whose reception reopened on Monday after a three-year closure.

A story on the Free Press website stated: “New owners Iliffe Media has decided to re-engage with its communities and is undertaking a programme of re-opening receptions in its marketplaces – with Bury St Edmunds first, to co-incide with Local Newspaper Week 2017. ”

The move will enable readers to drop in to place adverts, buy papers, share story ideas or chat with staff.

Editor Barry Peters, pictured above, said: “I’m looking forward to welcoming new and old readers back into the Bury Free Press.

“This is a hugely positive move for the title which enables us to reconnect with the community in the best way possible.”

Managing Director Ricky Allan added: “Since January, Iliffe Media has continued a development and investment programme that matches our goal to be at the forefront of the local community.

“Opening our receptions to encourage that engagement is a key part of that plan. In Bury, we are also dedicating part of the reception to local businesses who can display their offerings to the public on a rotational basis.

“Delivering news, engaging with the community and supporting the growth of business is what we aim to continue”.

Other titles purchased by Iliffe from JP in January include the Diss Express, Fenland Citizen, Lincolnshire Free Press, Grantham Journal, Haverhill Echo, Lynn News, Newmarket Journal, Rutland Times, Spalding Guardian and Stamford Mercury.

Since then the expanding group has gone on to buy the KM Group, whose titles include the Kent Messenger and Kentish Gazette, from the Allinson family.


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  • May 17, 2017 at 10:28 am

    At last someone with some common sense. When I “retired” from full-time journalism a few years ago I freelanced for two local weeklies. One had closed the reception on the grounds of saving costs (rather than JP’s claim it was part of a re-investment situation). Results: People did not drop in to give us a story or put in an advert. The bosses re-opened it a short while later.

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  • May 17, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Makes common sense to me. It’s what local newspapers are all about. At our office we have a stream of people popping in, nearly always with a good story.

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  • May 17, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Exactly the same in my experience @wordsmith

    There was a belief that advertisers needed us and would find to us…. they didn’t and they didn’t
    so a ridiculous ‘cost saving’ measure caused ill feeling as well as more lost business,
    In the end £££££ spoke and a new suit came in saw the lost revenue and reopened the branches.

    All good wishes on this positive customer and business led move forward

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  • May 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    At last, some good news. I do hope the BFP re-opening proves a success! In my weekly days (in deepest Gloucestershire) readers dropping in was (quite often) a highlight of the week, even though not all of them were complimentary about that week’s issue…

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  • May 17, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Yes Archie – quite right in what you say. That leads me to question why so many newspapers are relocating to boring, out of town industrial estates. Not only will the local population lose touch with the papers they buy but it also means that reporters lose touch with what is happening in their centres. When I used to wander off from the news desk in a seaside town into the centre I would more often than not bump into someone I knew on the council etc – and be given a tip off. Not trying to boast – just stating a fact. Locate to out of town and you don’t see/cultivate anyone.

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  • May 18, 2017 at 9:41 am

    JP did a lot more than close reception desks. It closed whole offices and decided to write papers “off patch” 20 miles away. The damage is clear to see in shallow writing and lack of local knowledge, not to mention missing so many local stories because no-one is “on the ground”. So well done this lot.

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