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Regional daily loses ‘long battle’ to keep its four district editions

A regional daily has lost what its editor described as a long “battle” to keep its four district editions as he announced it is to move to a single edition from next month.

Mark Waldron, editor of Portsmouth-based daily The News, told staff that attempts to axe the paper’s current four-edition structure had been “fought off” on many occasions – but that the battle had now been lost.

The News currently publishes separate editions for Portsmouth, Havant & Waterlooville, Gosport and Fareham, but will run one edition covering its whole patch from 15 April.

Mark revealed the change in a memo to staff, which has been seen by HTFP, but stressed the paper would continue have dedicated reporters serving the patches affected.



He wrote: “We have long fought to keep our edition structure when most other daily titles gave up theirs around 10 years ago. It’s been a constant battle to justify them, one we have fought off on many occasions but one which has now been lost.

“This does not mean that we lose the focus on Havant, Waterlooville, Gosport and Fareham. And it certainly doesn’t mean it lessens the need to have reporters for these patches.

“They are still vital parts of our area and deserve dedicated coverage, especially with the brilliant stories they always bring in.

“So our coverage remains consistent – it is only our ability to shout about stories from the editions we lose.”

News owner JPIMedia declined to comment further when approached by HTFP.

The change was announced last week on the same day JPI revealed it was looking to relocate The News to a new office on its patch.

HTFP understands premises in Havant and Port Solent are currently being considered.


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  • April 1, 2019 at 9:27 am

    I can see this pattern being repeated elsewhere by JPI, with one slightly larger central publication having not much more than slip pages for some towns that once had their own offices and newspapers. With some having lost 90 per cent of peak sales and suffering declining advertising it is hard to see how they can survive in their own right. It would be a sad day because some of the struggling local papers are very old, dating to the 1800s, but I fear t could come.

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  • April 1, 2019 at 9:52 am

    I am sure other groups with ailing weekly titles who have announced branch office closures will also adopt the same approach.
    Bundling up papers which have lost their local audiences with neighbouring ones is an obvious move ,taking them from paid for to free will also allow more of an audience for potential advertisers as well as reducing costs,this and would also allow long standing ,but now tired looking ,papers to continue ( temporarily at least) with half a chance of success rather than the only other option which is closure.

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  • April 1, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    I doubt pagination will increase, so when will we hear about the job losses? Another result of the JPI web first policy.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 8:01 am

    “taking papers from paid to free” this concept belongs to another era. if advertisers just want audience numbers (instead of engagement) they’ll simply go online. My guess is that more local free newspapers have closed in the last 5 years than paid fors as the total household coverage/advert only economic model is broken. Circulation revenue, no matter how difficult to generate, still plays a massive part in helping to fund decent local editorial content which gives some publishers a fighting chance, albeit on a much reduced scale than previously enjoyed.

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  • April 2, 2019 at 10:13 am

    so you’d carry on with loss making papers selling a handful of copies which the reps say isn’t attractive enough to lure potential advertisers rather than convert to feee which would likely gain ad revenue?
    Cover price money isn’t enough to fund the business so incurring costs to produce papers people clearly don’t want is a recipe for disaster, their only chance is going free or online, without advertising revenue it’s more cut backs, more closures, more job losses, game over

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  • April 2, 2019 at 10:38 am

    With regards to “ more local free newspapers have closed in the last 5 years than paid for” IF that’s so it’s probably only because paid for papers have been propped up-disproportionately to their worth and profitability by the larger publishers who have been desperate not to lose their dwindling presence in the market.
    Frees tend to be ‘ad grabbers’ funded by adverts which, like it or not,engage with the public and reach vast numbers of people which is exactly what local advertisers want, their engagement and money funds the operation.
    Many independent publishers are thriving where the main players are failing by appealing to the local communities,producing good free local content and thus attracting advertisers,all the while growing their audiences and making sensible realistic profits.
    Throwing good money after bad is no longer an option as the well’s running dry, unless advertising revenue vastly improves, and let’s face it, it won’t as the print audience is shrinking,or the sales people suddenly find a way to monetise digital sites enough to sustain the business, and after years of trying they haven’t managed to do so yet, papers will have to review their formats: paid to free, print to digital, or close, you can’t run a business on copy sales alone, not even when the same papers were at their peaks and shifting thousands a day.

    If you don’t agree,what’s your plan to fund local papers then @Caxton?

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  • April 2, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Firstly – who said paid dailies were loss making? They might not be making as much as they used to but a well run paid for will still be generating a profit, assuming the proprietor hasn’t mired them in debt. Time spent reading and engagement are still metrics that advertisers understand and value and if you can add digital to your print package then you still have a future. Undoubtedly less glamorous, profitable and influential than it was 10 years ago but still a future.
    Secondly – Free newspapers are in a more perilous position than paid for regional/locals. If advertisers only want to play the high penetration numbers game they now have online to play with and they can buy that at pennies per thousand reach. It’s not much fun running a weekly free against competition that is instant and sells audience reach by the ton!

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  • April 2, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Forget time spent reading a page or engagement, today advertisers want ROI @Caxton absolutely nothing else and will pay to get it, if it works they will come back for more, if it doesn’t they won’t and they’ll go elsewhere.
    With paid for papers selling pitifully few copies and cover price revenue contributing so little to company profits ( look at the annual reports if you need proof of how insignificant it is to the bottom line) it doesn’t make sense to persist with producing papers which are costly to produce when hardly anyone’s buying them any longer.
    local businesses use Twitter,FB or their own online social media platforms to reach their potential customers, not the local paid for paper and publishers own sites aren’t appealing enough to attract sufficient advertisers, it’s also difficult to gauge response so it’s not about price it’s about response and VFM so local businesses give them a wide berth, going free or converting to digital makes sense and is a lifeline to dying papers,hoping paid for titles suddenly see a revival of interest is wishful thinking.

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