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More than 40 jobs lost as regional daily ceases publication after 163 years

A regional daily newspaper has ceased production after 163 years with the majority of its 49 staff being made redundant.

KPMG has announced two of its staff have been appointed joint administrators of Hirst, Kidd and Rennie Limited, the company that produces the Oldham Evening Chronicle.

Following the appointment, production of the Chronicle and its companion publications has ceased, with KPMG saying “regrettably” the majority of the company’s 49 staff have been made redundant.

The move also affects monthly free titles the Oldham Extra, Saddleworth Extra, Tameside Extra and the Dale Times, and quarterly A4 magazines Oldham Business Edge, The Knowledge and Primary Knowledge.

Oldham fire

The Chronicle was first published in 1854 and was one of the few regional dailies still printed on the day of publication rather than overnight.

The administrators are to seek a buyer for the paper, but efforts so far have been unsuccessful.

Paul Flint, partner at KPMG and joint administrator with his colleague Jonathan Marston, said: “The company was faced with an increasing deficit in its defined benefits pension scheme in addition to the challenging trading conditions arising from the changing nature of the local media landscape.

“Unfortunately despite a rigorous sales process, a buyer for this long standing paper has not been found and it’s not commercially viable to continue operating.

“We will work to ensure all employees receive the maximum levels of practical and financial support through the redundancy process.

“We are also seeking buyers for the assets of the business, including the newspaper title to try and ensure its heritage will be preserved and continued.”

Staff were told of the paper’s closure after being summoned to a meeting yesterday and understood to be going into the office today to pick up their personal belongings.

John Gilder, one of the Chronicle’s longest-serving journalists, said the news had come as a “huge shock”.

John, who had worked with the paper since 1981, told the BBC: “It will be sadly missed. It generates a lot of chat among local people.

“Before I found out, I popped into the shop and bought a copy without knowing it was the last one. I like reading a physical newspaper but very sadly it’s no more.”

Chris Morley, Northern and Midlands organiser for the National Union of Journalists, said: “This dreadful news came as a bolt from the blue to our members and they were given no inkling about what they would be told when summoned to a meeting.

“There are big questions as to how a significant daily newspaper can be allowed to go under in this way and leave so many staff without a livelihood.

“It is also surprising that such a respected title as the Chronicle would not be of interest to other companies that we know have money available and have talked about consolidation in the industry.

“I would invite potential buyers to step in quickly to preserve the key assets of the paper – namely its crucial journalistic talent with the experience of serving the people of Oldham with distinction for so many years.

“The union will be assessing how best we can help our members who have been clinically dismissed with no notice or consultation.

“We shall be seeking urgent discussions with the administrators to find out what efforts are being made to save the title and provide the best outcome for our members.”

Chronicle editor Dave Whaley has declined to comment at this time.

Rob Irvine, editor of rival paper the Manchester Evening News, tweeted:  “Sad day for journalism in the North West – best wishes to editor David Whaley and his team.”


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  • August 31, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I can’t help thinking of recent comments on other stories suggesting that local print has a future.

    If anyone from the Oldham Chronicle is reading, I hope you get sorted soon.

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  • August 31, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Crying shame for Dave Whaley and his team. Great editor, nice bloke. What an industry this is.

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  • August 31, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Far too early for any industry comment, not knowing what’s gone on and what’s possible coming out of this. But it is the right time to say what a great journalist and editor Dave Whaley is. I know he’ll be trying his hardest on this one, and wish him and his staff the very best of luck. Harsh news for such a top man, but if anyone can cope and come out of it smiling, Dave can.

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  • August 31, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Very sad news. But 49 staff? Wow. I remember the days of working on newspapers with staffs of 500 and above, including more than 100 in editorial.
    Changing times.
    Sad times.
    Bad times.
    Thoughts go out to the people involved, but also to the tens of thousands of loyal and talented servants that have suffered the same fate in these past years.

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  • August 31, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    This is devastating and unprecedented news, but, sadly, also suggests the aggressive cost reduction policies of other publishers may have prevented more of the same.

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  • August 31, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Tragedy for a paper whose independence and integrity have set it apart for so long. A grave loss not only of talented and dedicated staff, but to a community that on several occasions in the recent past has required a steadfast voice on issues such as diversity and social cohesion. This is when the loss of local newspapers in our society will be most keenly felt – and cannot simply be replaced by social media’s largely incoherent megaphone.

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  • September 1, 2017 at 5:43 am

    Why does the NCTJ continue to run courses when there are NO jobs?

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  • September 1, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Echo the thoughts of everyone and my sympathies go out to the 49 staff. Recently asked a room of 40 business people who’d bought a paper today and two hands went up. That’s the challenge.

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  • September 1, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Spencer_Tracy: There are jobs. That’s why training courses run…those jobs are just not on local newspapers in the big numbers they used to be.

    Th local press still recruits, a small number, but good journalists find work elsewhere. It’s a digital world and that’s where savvy youngsters will seek to find work.

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  • September 1, 2017 at 11:44 am

    More than just a crack in the fabric of local democracy, this massive hole opens up endless opportunities for abuse of social justice and welfare as well as exploitation of the small print to go unchallenged.

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  • September 1, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Editor Dave Whaley rather brilliantly summed up just now, in an interview with BBC North West why, from a journalistic point of view, the loss of his title – or any other, for that matter – is to be so greatly regretted, with this remark: “The lunatics of social media will inherit the asylum.”
    How true.

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  • September 1, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Newspapers are destroying themselves.
    Time after time they post articles on social media with no troughts about protecting copyright.
    Those articles are then shared by so called “local community” Facebook pages and the like.
    There is then no need to go out and buy the paper.
    So what happens when newspapers are gone?
    These “local” FB pages will have nothing to share.
    The public will then not know what is going on in their home towns.
    Then the Dark Ages will descend, where rumour is presented as fact, and facts are not checked.
    Councils and other publicly-funded bodies only tell the public what they want the public to know.
    Newspapers tell the public what these bodies don’t want us to know.
    But there won’t be any newspapers left soon if the proprietors don’t sort themselves out!

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  • September 4, 2017 at 9:00 am

    it’s not the proprietors that need to sort themselves out its the audience who couldn’t care less about provenance. The best resourced regional publisher can’t hope to hold back this wave of audience apathy.The drawback to living in a global society is that communities of interests have replaced communities of geography so peer groups have become more important to readers than regional press. The social media lunatics already have the keys to the asylum and its filling up with people willing to surrender their identity for a free scrape of local news and the latest cellulite update from the Daily Mail. Local government, dodgy business, poor employers, under performing schools etc must all be rubbing their hands in glee

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  • September 4, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    No Caxton you CAN blame the publishers for years of lack of investment,complacency and arrogance in doing nothing in the face of a changing media landscape and for reaping rich harvests of bonus payments even when the financial situation couldn’t justify it and whilst copy sales and ad revenues began their huge downward declines.
    You cannot blame the end user for voting with their feet and turning to instantly accessible free media on line if they perceive the paid for medium is no longer of value , it’s up to the editors to make sure what they’re publishing is unique and of the highest quality unfortunately there are no real editors left to fight for the integrity of the paoers, their staff or their communityrs so the proprietors have dumbed down to such an extent that Facebook and twitter scrapings and UGC form the basis of all they do.

    Never blame the end user if the product on offer is no longer appealing

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  • September 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Paul Holden, your ‘local community’ clearly no longer wants or needs a printed newspaper. Your ‘local community’ is not willing to pay for local news behind a paywall. Your ‘local community’ is often more informed about local issue than journalists. Your ‘local community’ uses social media and you need to engage with them if you want to remain relevant.

    It’s no good blaming changing consumer habits. People aren’t going to go out and buy a paper just because they haven’t seen something on Facebook. When did you last say ‘I’ve not heard anything about my local council lately, I must go out and buy the paper’? It doesn’t happen! Stop posting to social media and they just won’t be engaging with you on another platform either, leading to a faster demise. The local press needs a new business model but God knows what that looks like!

    I feel for the 49 people who’ve just lost their jobs so apologies if this sounds harsh, but anyone who works for a local paper anywhere in the county knows that their days as a print journalist are numbered… and they have done for some time.

    I feel most sorry for those who this is happening to at the wrong end of their careers. The people who don’t really have time to retrain before retirement but are still supporting families etc. I hope things work out for you all. For those young enough to adapt and move on, get over it, get on with it and good luck with whatever you end up doing next. You all deserve better!

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  • September 4, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Following that logic then Tippex sales would be still strong if only the quality of tippex was better and it had been properly invested in?
    Some publishers have invested and innovated, it has slowed the decline but a glance at the ABC’s across the entire industry (as with TV and Radio) suggests the audience we seek to serve is distracted elsewhere.

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  • September 4, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Firstlly, condolences to those losing their jobs.

    Plenty to think about here – firstly, a staff of 49 looks awfully high for a paper shifting 6,500 copies a night, even allowing for many being part-time.

    Oldham’s one of many northern towns with a demographic timebomb ticking – the likelihood that 20 percent or so of the town simply aren’t in the market for an English-language paper. That number is only going one way.

    Then there’s general deprivation – the ONS claims Oldham has over 60% of its local area ranked in the most deprived 20% of areas in England. Not a hub of thriving business ready to spend money on advertising, nor a particularly wealthy base of potential punters.

    Another factor – the Manchester overlap. Someone with greater local knowledge can tell me whether the MEN competes in Oldham; I suspect it does, so the Chronicle doesn’t even have the advantage of a local monopoly. Similarly, Oldham’s commercial radio station is a perennial struggler in the ratings – in part because of the pulling power of the Greater Manchester and NW regional stations.

    David Upton talks of the Chronicle as a ‘…steadfast voice on issues such as diversity and social cohesion…’ Commenters on another newspaper site suggest the Chron was keen to brush the town’s problems under the carpet. Two ways of looking at the same paper, perhaps? Were they taking an editorial stance that alienated previously loyal buyers?

    And as Caxton says, the shift from local communities to ‘communties of interest’ cannot be overlooked. Chances are a 29 year old woman in Oldham knows and cares more of the Kardashians than she does of her neighbours. She may believe a local paper has no role in her life.

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  • September 5, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Wrong again Caxton
    Taking your tippex theory that would only be valid if the manufacturers had watered down the fluid,used a cheap brush, put less in the bottle then charged more for it
    Customers/ end users/ readers call them what you will cannot be blamed for choosing a more effective medium in which to access up to the minute news and with iPhones,tablets,laptops, TVs,radio and more giving instant access and for free it’s no longer in a local newspaper
    You’ve also argued against your own point when you rightly point out;
    “……..ta glance at the ABC’s across the entire industry (as with TV and Radio) suggests the audience we seek to serve is distracted elsewhere”

    It is and you can’t blame the audience or wonder why when the proprietors have sat back and allowed other, more modern and more responsive media proprieties to take the market

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