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Three-way rural news war breaks out after weekly’s demise

Miranda RobertsonA three-way rural news war has broken out following the demise of what was until recently the area’s only dedicated local publication.

HTFP reported last month how Reach plc had shut Blackmore Vale Magazine for good after publication was suspended for a prolonged period due to the coronavirus crisis.

In May, Newsquest stepped in to fill what was then a temporary news void on the borders of Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset served by the Magazine with the launch of the Vale Journal, an edition of its existing Salisbury Journal title.

But now two independent publishers have entered the race to win readers with the launch of The Blackmore Vale and The New Blackmore Vale.

According to Dorset Biz News, 5,000 people have signed up to receive free digital monthly publication The Blackmore Vale, due to be launched on 18 September.

It has been founded by husband and wife team Courtenay and Laura Hitchcock, a professional photographer and blogger respectively.

But the website further reports Wiltshire businessman Lloyd Armishaw is also separately financing plans to launch a newspaper called The New Blackmore Vale from 24 September, which will have an initial print run of 30,000.

The paper will be edited by Miranda Robertson, who worked for Newsquest titles in Dorset and Wiltshire between 1999 and 2017.

Miranda, pictured, told Dorset Biz News: “We will be replicating the old BVM in every way possible.

“I am literally going through, page by page, of old copies of the A4 magazine and ensuring we follow it exactly. People loved the BVM in a way they just don’t with other publications.

“We’re looking at bringing out a 48/52 page edition for our first one but I expect things to snowball.”

Discussing the launch of The Blackmore Vale digital title, she added: “We haven’t done this deliberately and I think the online magazine will do well. We’ll be very different to each other.”

In response, Laura said: “We’re happy to hear that a traditional paper edition of a free local paper will soon be available.

“We know digital is not for everyone, and we’re confident there’s more than enough news in our part of the county to keep us both busy.

“We do wonder if it might have been less confusing for readers if they had chosen a different name, however.

“Taking on a print version in these times is not for the faint-hearted, so we wish the new venture the very best of luck.”