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New weekly newspaper launches on schedule despite coronavirus

A new weekly newspaper has launched as scheduled despite the coronavirus outbreak with a print run of 65,000.

Archant-backed free title The Torbay Weekly has been delivered to homes across its patch, and is edited by Jim Parker, who was editor the Reach plc-owned Herald Express until 2018.

The team, all currently working from home as the coronavirus lockdown continues, include content creators Nikki Belso, Ellen Grindley, Dave Thomas and Tim Herbert.

Jim described the launch as a “massive achievement” with the fast-moving coronavirus situation meaning changes to the first edition were still being made literally as the paper was going to print.

Torbay Weekly

The first edition of the paper had a print run of 65,000 but it will have a regular print run of 20,000 copies going forward.

Said Jim: “To launch the newspaper was a massive achievement. Starting a new print product in the industry at the moment is a challenge in itself but to do just that amid the biggest crisis the country has seen since the Second World War was fantastic.

“It also turned out to be a unique, one-off and historic publication working with the local council to get their crisis support details and messages out to the Bay’s 65,000 homes. This week we are back to our normal 20,000 copies
“Brilliant team work got us over the line with people here in Torbay and up in Norwich working their socks off and all remotely at that.

“I’d like to thank our editorial production teams, working from their dining room tables and spare bedrooms, for helping us get this exciting new product completed on schedule.”

HTFP reported in February how the Weekly had poached Herald Express chief sportswriter Dave Thomas after 47 years with the paper.

Commercial staff working on the title include Rachel King, Kim Risdon, Clare Essam and Andy Sexton, while former Reach and Local World executive Chris Coward has overseeing launch along with fellow director Chris Wills.

You can read all our coronavirus-related stories here.


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  • April 14, 2020 at 10:07 am

    For all the problems facing Big News, we are set to enter a golden age of the local press (or websites). As many of larger news groups seek untold riches to countless millions online in ever expanding regions, a new breed of agile news entrepreneur will emerge.

    Archant have seized on an opportunity, good for them.

    In Wales the Welsh government has recognised this and is supporting its growing hyperlocal media during difficult times. It’s notable, there are no such deals for the larger organisations – both Reach and Newsquest are ignored despite being such big players.

    So the lesson may be that if you set realistic targets and don’t demand a 20 per cent profit margin to give to shareholders there may be enough for a genuine local press to survive for the immediate future.

    Councils should be given the option to move statutory adverts to online organisations that best represent the locality. An annual £30k of advertising may be small beer to a conglomerate but to a start up that could mean life or death.

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  • April 14, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Good luck to The Torbay Weekly – always good to see a new newspaper being launched these days rather than seeing titles close.
    But surely this is one hell of a difficult time to launch a weekly free paper, which will rely solely on advertising revenue, when the ongoing coronavirus situation has seen many advertisers stop advertising because they are temporarily closed until this national emergency has passed?
    I wonder what the pagination is for The Torbay Weekly? I’m guessing for the first few editions you’d want to be all-singing and all-dancing with bumper-sized editions, but surely that has been knocked sideways by falling advertising revenue?
    And being one who thinks the word “local” is so very key to any local paper, I raised my eyebrows at Jim Parker’s comment of “Brilliant team work got us over the line with people here in Torbay and up in Norwich working their socks off and all remotely at that.”
    I had a quick look on the wonders of Google and Norwich is 316 miles from Torbay – about 5-and-a-half hours in the car.
    But, nevertheless, congratulations to everyone at The Torbay Weekly (regardless of whether they are in Torbay or Norwich) and good luck for a successful future…….

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  • April 14, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Always nice to see a new newspaper launched! Especially, when we’ve seen some small weeklies closed (hopefully just temporarily) in recent weeks.

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  • April 14, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    “…changes to the first edition were still being made literally as the paper was going to print.” How else – metaphorically?

    But were they literally correcting ‘literals’?

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  • April 15, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    The comment about being partly produced in Norwich confused me too ‘Steve S’
    if this is a true hyper local weekly, why is it not wholly produced in Devon?
    and on that point where is it printed?
    I assume it’s by a local printer but can anyone confirm?

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