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Independent title marks a year in business after recruiting 13 staff

An independent newspaper has celebrated its first year in business after spawning a sister title and taking on 13 staff.

The New Blackmore Vale has marked the milestone after being launched following the demise of Reach plc title Blackmore Vale Magazine.

The title is edited by former Dorset Echo and Salisbury Journal journalist Miranda Robertson, recruited when the title was launched by Wiltshire businessman Lloyd Armishaw last summer, with her former Newsquest colleague Debi Thorne selling display ads.

A sister title, the New Stour and Avon, was launched in March and is edited by ex-Dorset Echo photographer and sub-editor Steve Belasco, while more journalists have also been added to the fold over the past 12 months.


The NBM was launched in a three-way rural news war after Reach shut the BVM, competing with Newsquest’s Vale Journal and another independent title called The Blackmore Vale.

It has a free circulation of 32,500 around the borders of Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset.

Miranda told HTFP: “The community were genuinely devastated when the BVM closed at the start of the lockdowns in 2020.

“So we knew we would be fulfilling a need.

“However what we didn’t predict is how fast it would grow.”

Over the year The NBM has recruited Karen Bate, formerly of the Salisbury Journal and Bournemouth Echo, as news editor, ex-Southern Daily Echo writer Steve Keenan, former Dorset Echo chief sub-editor Nick Horton, and sales staff Sue Kennington, formerly of the Salisbury Journal, and Jane Toomer, another ex-Bournemouth Echo employee.

Three further ex-colleagues at Bournemouth now also work the New Stour and Avon – Faith Eckersall and Lorraine Gibson on news and features and Andrew Diprose on business.

Nicci Brown, a colleague of Miranda’s on the Dorchester Guardian, also writes for both titles.

Around 500 ads are all placed in the NBV by hand – about 250 of those are designed by ex-Bournemouth Echo duo John Nesbitt and Rich Stone, with the remainder coming from the classifieds team.

Miranda added: “It’s been such a surprise. “All we knew was that people don’t really advertise in print anymore.

“We fretted we couldn’t sustain such an expensive model, but knew in order to fill the gap left by the old mag we had to print on A4 newspaper. Reach had taken the title tabloid and people hated it.

“Now, however, even advertisers who told us at the start they would never advertise in the magazine have come in and we’ve had people suspend their advertising because they have too much work to get through as a result of advertising in our magazine.

“Genuinely. It’s such a thrill to hear that newsprint is working for people.

“Our latest magazine was 112 pages with a four-page glossy advertising wrap. We’ve resolutely kept the font size at 11pt as readers love the larger print, which is no easy task as we always have so much to squeeze in.

“It’s been a very steep learning curve, but somehow we’ve made lots of right choices and it’s working very well indeed.”