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Publisher launches ‘Britain’s biggest free weekly’ as seven titles close

An independent publisher has launched what it has claimed is “Britain’s biggest free weekly newspaper” in a move which will see seven existing titles close and four staff leave the business.

The Midland News Association’s new Chronicle Week publication will hit the streets for the first time tomorrow, replacing the seven-edition Chronicle series.

The new publication will have five editions covering Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Cannock, which were all previously served by dedicated versions of the Chronicle.

Readers in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Cannock will continue to receive a dedicated edition but the Dudley edition will also feature news from the towns of Halesowen and Stourbridge, which previously had their own editions.

MNA print MD Graeme Clifford with Chronicle Week

MNA print MD Graeme Clifford with Chronicle Week

As a result of a restructure coinciding with the changes, two MNA editorial staff have taken voluntary redundancy and two other members of staff have retired.

The launch edition of Chronicle Week will be delivered to 210,000 homes and will also be on sale in more than 250 newsagents, and the MNA says local stories will feature throughout each edition along with a comprehensive round-up of the week’s regional news.

Keith Harrison, editor of the MNA’s Wolverhampton-based daily the Express & Star, said: “We are delighted with the new Chronicle Week and the prestige of laying claim to being the biggest free weekly newspaper in the UK.

“There is a focus on positive stories with human interest, alongside the hard news which readers expect from us, plus eight pages of leisure features.”

The move by the MNA echoes a similar rebrand undertaken by Reach plc’s forerunner Trinity Mirror in the Greater Manchester area three years ago.

TM launched the Manchester Weekly News in April 2015 to replace the Stockport Times, Wilmslow Express and the Advertiser series in Tameside, Salford, Oldham and Trafford.

At the time, TM billed the Weekly News as “Britain’s biggest free weekly newspaper” with it being distributed to more than 265,000 homes.

HTFP has asked Reach plc for the current distribution figure of the Weekly News in order to verify the MNA’s claim to the crown.

MNA print managing director Graeme Clifford said: “The launch of Britain’s biggest free weekly newspaper is a prime example of the MNA’s commitment to continuing to invest in print. A lot of time and hard work has gone into making this product what it is, and we are very excited about its launch.”

Alongside the new product, the MNA will continue to publish the free weekly the Stafford Express & Star.

MNA advertising director Louise Burns said: “The new print title has an improved offering for advertising which we feel will help to engage with readers in a more targeted way.

“Conversations are already under way with advertisers to update them on the changes and the new opportunity to accelerate coverage at a lower cost per thousand, which have been received positively.”


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  • November 1, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    I wish Keith and his team every success. It looks like a good move.

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  • November 2, 2018 at 10:26 am

    A positive and sensible move when the alternative is ongoing copy sale and ad revenue losses and very likely closure,with so few people buying a local paper and those that remain looking much the word fit wear this move is to be applauded and is one other groups would do well to follow.
    Good luck to all concerned

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  • November 2, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Let’s hope the Chronicle Week distribution network is more efficient that the superseded Chronicle series. The Stourbridge Chronicle hasn’t been delivered to my home for months.

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  • November 2, 2018 at 11:37 am

    * ‘word fit’ of course should be ‘worse for ‘

    Whoops , i need a good sub

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  • November 2, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Ahhh…Big is Beautiful!
    And all, no doubt, to be served by an army of dedicated subs. Or at least what passes for subs these days.

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  • November 2, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Good move. The future of newspapers is not digital but free sheets. People won’t buy newspapers but will have a read if they pop through their door.
    Instead of rapidly declining paid-for sales which remove the positives of advertising, advertising staff can point to blanket coverage.
    Advertisers prefer print as we all now know following the failure of digital.

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