One month after the closure of the weekly Liverpool Post Trinity Mirror this weekend launches the Sunday Echo as the UK's first new Sunday paper since the launch of The Sun on Sunday.
The title is priced 50p and will be produced by the same team of journalists which work on the Echo Monday to Saturday.
Editor Ali Machray said: “I’m also editor of the Monday to Saturday edition so with the new Sunday paper I guess I won’t be getting any time off at all. But this is a very exciting time. The Liverpool Echo is a great success and it is a very strong and trusted brand in the city.”
Machray said he was pleased that the timing of the closure of the Liverpool Post and the decision to launch the Sunday edition of the Echo coincided. He said: "It wasn’t planned that way, but there were a talented group of reporters on the Liverpool Post who know Liverpool inside-out. I am sure they will help make the Sunday Echo a success.
“We are not going down the road of long Sunday-like features. The wordcount on stories may be slightly higher than on the daily edition but we will be concentrating entirely on local news and sport. People here are obsessed with Liverpool and Everton and thankfully both clubs are doing well in the Premier League.
“We have noticed a bounce in circulation and hits online with both team’s success. We are helped because both Liverpool and Everton have young, media-savvy managers.”
Machray said he will not be running features on new crazes or “the ten best” type stories featuring generic copy.
“Our readers aren’t interested in that. They want news and sport with a local focus. We have no competition from the Sun on Sunday as they are an irrelevance up here. Trinity Mirror produce two excellent tabloids, The Sunday Mirror and Sunday People where people can get their national news.”
According to Machray the increasing emphasis on digital content had helped justify the decision to print a Sunday edition.
“We were thinking about it. We had the building, printing presses, computers and even journalists sitting idle on a Saturday. Our sports guys would have been working anyway, but with digital, we were increasing the number of staff working on a Saturday. The readers want a Sunday edition and hopefully so do the advertisers. Things are going well with both print and online. Our online is very successful. We have a full-time showbiz reporter who is so busy we are currently recruiting a second one.“
According to Machray, digital journalism now relies on some of the old-school skills necessary for working on a traditional evening newspaper three decades ago.
“When I was at the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle, we had up to eight editions. The paper constantly changed so if you were covering a court case you had to be incredibly quick.
“There was not time for a reporter to sit with their head under a towel looking to sculpt perfect prose. If they did, they’d miss the edition. Now those same skills are needed to tweet or to file copy quickly and accurately.
“The only thing I won’t miss are the old football pinks when we had to have all possible permeations ready at 5pm. All we would have to do is input the final score and be off-stone by 5.15 on a Saturday. That was pressure. From next weekend we’ll have until 9pm. I’m not going to say it is leisurely, but it is plenty of time.”
Machray started his career on the Sunderland Echo before moving to the Newcastle Chronicle and then working on now defunct daily Today in London.
From there he went to Liverpool and edited the Liverpool and Wales Daily Post for ten years. He has spent the last nine years editing The Echo.
“I am almost 20 years here in Liverpool and no matter what I do, either Liverpool or Everton fans think I’m biased against them – sometimes even on the same story. I am a Newcastle fan even though they have not won anything since 1969.
“But I don’t think you could do my job if you were a fan of either of the two clubs in Liverpool as you’d instantly lose half of the people. At least if both sides think I’m against them I must be doing something right."
Machray declined to be drawn on the size of the print run for the Sunday edition, but said that in the first three months they will be printing extra copies to ensure that everyone who wants one will be able to get a copy.
“After a few months we will see what the sales are like and how many copies are needed in a particular area. But with both Merseyside clubs doing so well, I’ve had to put some money aside from the budget to cover European football next season.”