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Regional publisher merges three weeklies into single title

Three weekly newspapers have merged into a single publication – mirroring a move made by a number of its sister titles two years ago.

Johnston Press has informed newsagents that the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, Berkhamstead & Tring Gazette and the Hemel Express have now merged.

The single newspaper is now known as the Hemel Hempstead Gazette & Express, and is published on Wednesdays.

The move came into effect at the end of last month, and follows similar changes made by JP in the North of England in 2015.

Hemel new

In October of that year, the Hebden Bridge Times and Todmorden News were condensed into a single weekly newspaper, while the Dewsbury Reporter and Mirfield Reporter were also merged at the same time.

The announcement from Johnston Press came in a letter to newsagents and has been reproduced on the website of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents.

It reads: “Please be aware that from week commencing May 29 the Hemel Gazette, Berkhamstead & Tring Gazette and the Hemel Express will be merged to form one publication. The new publication will be called the Hemel Hempstead Gazette & Express and will continue to be delivered every Wednesday.

“Please ensure your system is updated from week commencing May 29 with the new barcode which can be found below. Your current terms will remain unchanged.

“Please continue to keep the publication on sale for the entire week, as any unsold copies will be collected when your new edition is delivered.

“Should you have any questions regarding this change, please email or telephone us on the contact details below. Your continued support is very much appreciated.”

Johnston Press has so far declined to comment further on the move.


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  • June 23, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    It is wonderfully ironic that in killing off the Berko paper in their press release JP could not even be bothered to spell the name of the town right.

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  • June 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    JP long ago took the local out of local papers. Not bad for a firm that vainly proclaimed “life is local”. My own JP weekly, written 20 miles from the patch, is largely re-hashed press releases, many of them unedited. The lack of local knowledge is evident. Good luck with this latest ” hub”.
    Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

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  • June 23, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    A little extra local knowledge might be useful here….
    1. The Hemel and Berkhamsted/Tring titles were never separate papers, the B&T was a slip edition of the weekly paid for.
    2. The Herald Express, not Hemel Express, was created in 1995 by merging the Emap Thursday free the Express and the rival free Herald and Post, produced out of Luton. It was a great paper, packed with news and a big hit with readers. Made a pretty penny, too. I would say that, I was editor at the time and it was one of my babies.
    3. At the time the three Hemel titles had a full staff of around 20 reporters, subs and snappers based in town centre offices.
    4. The offices have been shut for years, there isn’t even a handful of staff trying to fill these pages from a town miles away – and this is the biggest town in the county, and a very lively little patch.
    What JP have effectively done is shut the free, which is their call, in the hope of cutting further cost and in the expectation that nobody else will be daft enough to enter the market.
    I know this is just one more sorry story reflecting what’s going on all over the country, and I was lucky enough to have many good years in the industry before hanging up my hat. I just feel sorry for a community which will now be even less well served and future lost generations of hopeful hacks – where can they get a decent start these days, even if they wanted one?

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  • June 23, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Isn’t the word ‘sanctuary’? Not ‘sanctury’, as it says in the puff?

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