Argus may be preparing Standard-style Lite edition

By Sarah Lagan The Argus in Brighton is the latest regional paper believed to be considering the launch of a free Lite edition.

Launching
Lite editions is seen as a way of increasing readership at a time when
most evening newspapers are experiencing big sales drops.

The
Newsquest-owned Argus suffered a dramatic fall in circulation after its
upmarket relaunch in February 2004, when sales dropped by around 10 per
cent to 38,361.

The paper’s editor Michael Beard and managing
director Martyn Willis refused to comment, but staff believe an
announcement is due to be made in the next few weeks.

There are concerns among staff that the new edition will create extra work if no new journalists are appointed.

They are also said to be worried that the Lite could have an impact on the Sussex daily’s paid-for sales.

One
insider said: “It appears the Lite edition is going ahead and the
managing director is due to make an announcement to journalists this
week or next.”

The Evening Standard was the first UK paper to
launch a Lite edition. It was followed by Guardian Media Group’s
Manchester Evening News.

The MEN increased distribution of its
Lite edition by a thousand to 11,000 in August after research revealed
it was reaching an ABC1 readership. The paper is considering increasing
it further.

It found that although around two per cent of MEN
readers left the paper for the free edition, the figure was made up by
a further two per cent who started reading the paid after picking up
the Lite.

Evening Standard sales dropped nearly 12 per cent
year-on-year from 394,387 to 350,671, but the paper claimed a month on
month “audience” increase of 16 per cent when it introduced the Lite.

The Argus recently cut down from two editions to one by dropping its late edition.

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