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New reporting beat for former editor as he joins independent weekly

chrs-carter-e1449832439679A long-serving editor who left his job in a restructure three years ago has returned to the industry in reporting role with an independent weekly.

Chris Carter, who spent more than 20 years in charge of the Ilford Recorder before a 2016 restructure by Archant, has begun covering the town of Sawbridgeworth for the Bishop’s Stortford Independent.

Chris, pictured, began working for the Independent on a freelance and part-time basis this week.

He replaces previous Sawbridgeworth reporter Emma Vandore, who has taken up a full-time role as head of content and editorial for engineering firm AECOM.

The move comes after the Independent revealed its newspaper sales figures for the period February to September inclusive are up 35pc year-on-year, averaging 3,860 a week according to its own unaudited figures, with print and digital advertising up by 13.9pc for the first nine months of 2019.

The increases follow the closure of the rival Herts & Essex Observer in January, although the paper has also credited its decision to expand its coverage into Sawbridgeworth and Stansted, where it employs reporter Hollie Ryder on a freelance and part-time basis, for the upsurge.

Online, the Independent had 282,870 page views from 87,880 unique visitors in September 2019, with the latter representing an increase of 186pc on its September 2018 total of 30,729.

Editor Paul Winspear told HTFP: “Whatever measure you use, the Indie goes from strength to strength, with readership and revenue both in print and online increasing.

“We stick to the formula of providing content that is relevant, engaging, enlightening and rooted in our readers’ community. Basically, we treat our audience like grown-ups.

“The paper version of the Indie especially gives our readers a really strong sense of identity about their home town: holding up a mirror to the community, shining the light on hidden gems and championing the various sectors of the community in Bishop’s Stortford.”


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  • October 14, 2019 at 10:04 am

    This is exactly why hundreds of small independent news papers are springing up across the country in the wake of the outdated older groups completely switching they efforts resources and focus from print to digital but still being unable to monetise it.

    Print is very much alive and thriving, just not at the big publishers, when done well and by skilled local journalists who know the patch and are engaging with local people, picking up thousands of pounds of ad revenue and readers as a result, something his former employers would love to be doing instead of watching copy sale numbers forever falling and advertisers walking away.

    Good move and good luck to Chris another well respected ex Archant staffer now moved on to bigger and better things in the independent community publishing sector, it’s without doubt the future of the regional press.

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  • October 14, 2019 at 11:08 am

    @From the word furnace

    I don’t disagree with your central point, but I’m a bit surprised by some of your claims to support it.
    Where are these “hundreds of small independent newspapers” springing up exactly? Can you share maybe ten examples?
    Or is it just wishful thinking?

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  • October 14, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Wherever I go in the U.K. particularly,the eastern counties,Essex and south and east London I always pick up copies of the local free papers where the content and production values of most are at least on a par with the bigger operators output these days.

    Go to any town or city and you’ll find a good alternative to the main publisher often a free paper usually staffed by ex regional press people, and just look at the number of independent openings announced or mentioned as successes here on HTFP, it’s a groundswell which is picking up momentum in the wake of falling paid for sales elsewhere.

    In west Norfolk alone there’s a popular weekly title;Your Local Paper full of all the local community news and area event coverage which is very high profile and has a huge number of adverts amongst the pages of news.
    These papers are picking up high reader numbers by giving what the others no longer offer; free hyper local grass roots news, and as importantly, trade advertising at fair and decent rates.

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  • October 14, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    There is no evidence to back up the claim made by Word Furnace – a few ad hoc examples, but the test is asking publishers like the Bishop Stortford Independent: How profitable are you? And how many papers do you actually sell?

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  • October 14, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    In answer to Tippex… 1. Profitable enough (and ahead of schedule) for the liking of our owner, Iliffe Media. 2. As it says in the article, averaging 3,860 a week for Feb-Sept, up 35% YOY

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  • October 14, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    JimmyMac – Here’s four for you:
    East Northants Reporter
    Kempston Calling
    Beds Borough Bulletin
    Mid Beds Bulletin

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  • October 14, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    It would be interesting for HTFP to produce a list of as many of the independent weeklies as possible showing where they are and the number of papers published.
    Whilst not wholly definitive it would give an indication of where the new titles are located or which areas they cover,when each was launched and an idea of the numbers of readers per edition.
    We often read of openings or launches on HTFP but never how each is progressing ,if they’re still being published or have closed.

    I too pick up free papers wherever I happen to be and in most cases the quality and content is very acceptable and the papers seemingly popular.

    Back to the main point of the piece and all good wishes and successes to Chris

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  • October 14, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    That’s a very helpful and impressive list Paul, I clearly missed it, thank you for the link.

    It would be useful to know the other points I mentioned with regards to when established and the copy numbers ideally covering the period since each one’s inception, but that’s a big task, any updates on performance figures would be useful too, perhaps from the publishers themselves.

    I am sure there are many other small, hyper local weekly and monthly publications not listed, going about their businesses quietly by providing good local news and advertising services also appearing across the country too.
    In all likelihood these will be unheard of by anyone outside of the communities they serve and that’s exactly how it should be,truly hyper local and distanced from the generic and irrelevant out of area space filler content we are all tired of seeing littering our once local local papers.

    Good luck and continued success to all the independent publishers out there who know their audiences, live and breathe their communities and are providing much needed grass roots locally written journalism

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  • October 14, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    There’s a series of monthly hyper local publications in Norfolk by the independent ‘Just Regional’ group covering some of the Norwich suburbs and towns across the county run by another ex Archant employee which are not on @PaulDyson’s list.
    This is probably because as @Phillip has mentioned, they’ve been going about their business very successfully for a few years building their business and audiences by focusing completely on the areas they cover.

    There are likely to be many many more across the country off the wider radar operating in a similar fashion too, leaving the bull and bluster to others while they pick up the communities the major players have lost or abandoned in their fruitless quest to make online news pay.

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  • October 15, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Another superb link showing just how many community news publications there are out there providing real alternatives to the more established and ailing bigger groups, although again I’m sure it’s not definitive thank you @AndyN

    Hopefully @jimmyMac might have found the answer he’s looking for now

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  • October 15, 2019 at 10:03 am

    If anyone wants proof that Paul Winspear has hit the mail on the head when he says:

    “We stick to the formula of providing content that is relevant, engaging, enlightening and rooted in our readers’ community”

    I’d suggest looking at todays Archant ( Chris’ previous employer) EDP Twitter post entitied
    “ 5 places to eat cheaply and well in Dubrovnik “
    That my friends,sums up why independent community publishers are thriving and groups such as Archant are struggling to engage local audiences and remain relevant.

    Keep up the good work Paul, Chris and all the small local news publishers out there, our communities need you.

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  • October 15, 2019 at 11:22 am

    Whilst Paul might well wish to hit ‘ the mail on the head’ I meant of course ‘ the nail’

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