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New weekly to launch on closure-threatened newspaper’s patch

A regional publisher is launching a new weekly to serve a patch where an independent newspaper is threatened with closure.

Newsquest has revealed the Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette will be published for the first time this Friday, with the company saying the launch comes “in the absence of any certainty surrounding the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald”.

The Herald revealed a fortnight ago that it had gone into voluntary administration after 160 years of publication, with six members of staff made redundant as a result, although the paper has continued to publish as normal during the process.

Newsquest says it intends to create new jobs in Penrith, where the Herald is based, to add to its existing reporting team of 34 in Cumbria.

But the Herald has hit back at its new rival’s launch, with the administrators saying a number of offers have been received for the business.

Cumbelrand Gazette

Newsquest Cumbria group editor Vanessa Sims said: “I am delighted to be bringing this new title to Penrith and the Eden Valley. This paper will be a stable-mate to our award-winning Cumberland News and the Westmorland Gazette.

“I’m sure readers will be impressed when they see what the new Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette has to offer in print and online.”

The first edition of the Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette, which has a cover price of 80p, is to be published this Friday, while a companion website will also go live.

Newsquest says those who purchase the Gazette’s inaugural edition will receive a free copy of its Cumbria Life magazine.

David Coates, Newsquest Cumbria’s managing director, said: “Nobody understands Cumbria better than the team behind the launch of this new title and website, and the Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette is a natural extension of our coverage in Penrith and the surrounding area.

“It is essential that Penrith and the Eden Valley continues to benefit from its own newspaper and local news website.

“The uncertainty over the future of the Herald is causing concern to the newspaper’s staff, and the wider community, and Newsquest Cumbria is pleased to step in to help.

“We’ll be creating new jobs in Penrith, adding to our existing team of 34 reporters on the ground in Cumbria, and there are also opportunities for advertising specialists to join our team too.”

Announcing it had entered administration earlier this month, the Herald revealed two further editions of the paper were set to be published while administrators Howard Smith and David Costley-Wood from KPMG’s restructuring practice explored a potential sale of the independently-owned business.

HTFP understands the Herald, which publishes on Saturdays, is set to run at least two further editions in addition to those while the process continues.

in response to the Gazette’s launch, editor Emily Atherton said on the Herald’s website: “Myself and the staff at the Herald are committed to keeping this newspaper going and remaining at the heart of your community.

“We continue in our fight to preserve the Herald and need the support of our readers and advertisers now more than ever.”

Joint administrator Howard Smith said: “From the outset of our appointment, we have been struck by the sheer strength of affection for the Herald. It really is a cornerstone of the local community with a proud and longstanding heritage.

“We’re therefore pleased to say we’ve received a number of offers for the business and have continued to publish the paper to allow ongoing discussions with interested parties in the hope of achieving a positive outcome.”

4 comments

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  • February 19, 2020 at 12:32 pm
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    Talk about kicking a man when he’s down! Not content with destroying the best independent newspaper group in the country and throwing masses of talented, skilled staff on the scrap heap, NQ are now setting about the still-alive body of the Herald (which is still fighting, commendably). And if anyone falls for the new jobs, “pleased to step in and help” line, I predict that when they’ve poached all the scared staff and stomped all over the Herald’s body, the Gazette will revert to being a page a week in the Westmorland Gazette and the Herald refugees will still be out in the cold.

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  • February 19, 2020 at 12:44 pm
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    At least Newsquest is trying to do something in print. The other major players appear to have given up on newspaper altogether. And they may still be in for the Herald, as nothing’s yet been confirmed on its future.

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  • February 19, 2020 at 1:02 pm
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    They don’t hang about do they?
    The vultures are circling and picking at the the carcass of this long standing established weekly even before it’s uttered it’s last breath under the guise of “ stepping in to help”
    I’m surprised they’ve gone down the print route though so maybe the realisation that online news isn’t the future and cannot be monetised has prompted them to join the ‘opening on a competitors territory’ dog eat dog trend in the U turn fight for survival joining the Archant v JPI and Archant v Reach turf wars elsewhere.
    Hopefully the law of the jungle will thin the pack out leaving leaner better and more engaging localised news services across the U.K.but somehow I doubt it, once the novelty wears off I’m sure it’ll be the same old same old corner cutting, non localised filler and reheated reader lifted social media posts that the public have become tired of but used to.

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  • February 19, 2020 at 1:25 pm
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    One assumes this is a function of the administrator looking for more for the Herald than Newsquest were prepared to offer. Tricky, to say the least.

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