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Daily axes ‘reader favourite’ page after 80 years in print

A daily newspaper’s history and nostalgia page has ceased publication after 80 years following a “regional managerial decision”.

The Leicester Mercury printed its last daily ‘Mr Leicester’ page, described as a “reader favourite”, on Saturday.

Mr Leicester began life as a gossip column in the 1930s, evolving post-war into a community news portfolio and developing its local history angle from the early 1980s onwards.

The Mercury says the column has been replaced with a new nostalgia feature.

Mr Leicester's farewell piece

Mr Leicester’s farewell piece

Austin Ruddy, a Mercury journalist for 20 years, edited Mr Leicester from 2012 until its closure.

HTFP understands Austin worked his last day at the Mercury on Thursday.

In a farewell piece published in Friday’s edition, he wrote: “After 80 years, in a moment of ultimate irony, the Mr Leicester nostalgia page is itself to become history.

“The page has been a reader favourite for eight decades, but now, as it happens, has had its day.”

Austin added: “It has been a real honour to receive readers’ personal stories and cherished photos, all of which I have found fascinating.

“I think it’s fair to say that no [editor of] Mr Leicester has pretended to know everything about the city and county’s history: we added what knowledge we have, but the greatest stories and tales of yesteryear have come direct, first hand, from readers themselves.”

In response to a similar farewell post on the Mr Leicester Facebook page, one reader questioned why the decision had been made.

The Mr Leicester account responded: “It was a regional managerial decision.”

In February, the National Union of Journalists claimed 16 East Midlands-based roles were set to be made redundant by the Mercury’s owner Trinity Mirror.

TM has announced a total of 98 jobs are at risk as part of the introduction of a new newsroom model at a number of its centres across England and Wales.

However, it is not clear whether Austin’s departure from the Mercury is linked to this.

HTFP has approached the Mercury for further comment.


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  • April 4, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Now it could be that this was a tired, outdated feature waiting to be put out of its misery.
    On the other hand it could be a clueless managerial decision made by someone who doesn’t know what their customer base likes.
    I guess we’ll only find out in the coming days if a “We’ve listened to what our readers want and we’re delighted to announce the return of Mr Leicester” story appears…
    Although thinking about it, TM could perhaps introduce a Mr England (or Wales or Scotland) column to run in all its titles. I could imagine some regional managerial bod coming up with such an idea…

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  • April 4, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Many Trinity Mirror titles have seen interesting local nostalgia content – often based on the local newspapers’ incomparable archives – replaced by a bland, generic national feature page pumped out by the Liverpool shared content unit. Is Leicester’s ‘new’ offering the same, I wonder?

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  • April 5, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Had a similar situation at my old paper. A hugely loved columnist and former editor who used to get paid about 20 quid a month to cover his bus fair got binned off to save money, even though he single handedly brought in hundreds if not thousands of readers with his nostalgia column.

    At face value it looks like short term thinking but the problem is bigger than that – it’s that newspaper bosses simply don’t care what the readers want.

    I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. No other product treats its buyers with as much contempt. You would never see a magazine like 442 using user generated images of the back of a footballer’s head walking down the tunnel, or print a front page with ‘insert three decks here’ still visible.

    The newspaper industry was filleted years ago. The top brass aren’t newspaper people, they’re from every industry but newspapers – AOL, Pepsi, Holland and Barrett, you name it. They’re just there to ‘manage its decline’ before they get a gig at another company. They probably put things like ‘I rationalised Trinity Mirror’s estate’ on their LinkedIn profile when they’re applying for jobs at B&M’s head office.

    The other problem is that the layer of editors left beneath them now are all complicit. All the people of quality who would have objected to things like this years ago have been moved on or stood down with pride, rather than be party to this scorched earth horror show. The calibre of editors left are by and large the type of people who would probably be happy to do media relations for Donald Trump.

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  • April 6, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Absolutely spot on Jeff – couldn’t have said it better myself.

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