Argus jettisons late edition in new bid to halt sales slump

By Dominic Ponsford

The Argus in Brighton has ditched its late edition and is becoming a morning paper in a bid to stop plunging sales.

The paper currently has a morning edition and a lunch-time one, but
will now have one final deadline of 11pm with the aim of being in
newsagents by early the following morning.

In another change, the
paper will split into two geographical editions, with one serving the
city of Brighton and Hove and another covering the rest of the county
of Sussex.

Savings will be made by not renewing the contracts of nine delivery drivers.

But Argus managing director Martyn Willis said the changes were not a costcutting exercise.

The
latest upheavel at The Argus follows a failed upmarket relaunch in
February 2004 which saw much community news dropped from the paper. It
was followed by an acceleration in the decline of sales and in the last
six months of 2004 circulation dropped by 9.7 per cent to 38,361.

Willis
said: “Over the last few years we have found that the communities of
the county and the city are looking for different things.”

Evening meetings and football matches will still make it into the following day’s paper under the new deadlines.

But
news breaking during the day will instead be covered on a beefed up
website, which will also preview more “in depth” coverage in the
following day’s paper.

Willis said the changes had been broadly
welcomed by NUJ representatives and should lead to a reduction in
working hours at the paper.

But according to one insider,
journalists are unhappy about the move and fear it could lead to
further circulation drops. “There used to be real excitement in the
city about what’s going to be in The Argus tonight. People want to read
up-to-date news and there’s a lot happening in this city.”

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