Ethnic editions give regional sales a boost

Regional newspapers are seeking to stem their circulation declines by finding new readers from ethnic communities.

Last week the weekly Reading Chronicle announced it is to have a permanent Polish-language edition each week and this week the Birmingham Post & Mail has produced for the first time a 72-page magazine aimed at British Asians celebrating British Asian Week and Mela '06.

David Brookes, editor of the group's Sunday Mercury, previously edited the magazine Asianlife. He said: "Publishers have to look at ways of reaching new audiences. "The reaction to the magazine has been very favourable so far. We'll assess its success in a month's time before deciding where we go next."

The Reading Chronicle last week took the decision to publish a permanent weekly seven-page Polish-language edition, Kronika Reading, which is repeated in English. It is believed the edition saw a 10 per cent upturn in sales on the day.

Editor Simon Jones said: "The success of Kronika Reading has shown that Poles have a real desire to get immersed in local issues and that is very encouraging in terms of helping to build community cohesion."

Southern Daily Echo editor Ian Murray said his paper received a "modest increase" in sales when he experimented with a Polish edition in August, although sales were not his motivation. He explained: "Its aim was to introduce the Polish community to the Echo, not to produce a regular supplement written in Polish and targeted only to the Polish community. I think there's nothing worse than there being a section of the paper that you have bought which you can't read. "I personally believe that the majority of new residents and immigrants into the city and area probably wish to learn English. "It was a successful experiment and we will probably do another one before Christmas and another one after. We registered a modest increase on that day but it wasn't set out as a circulation driver." The Dublin Evening Herald's Polish edition, Polski Herald, has been publishing on Friday for a year and sales on the day have increased by 4,000 to 90,000. Advertising revenue has also rocketed and pagination has gone from eight to 20 pages since last November.

It has four Polish columnists writing for the paper, freelances and a deal with a Polish newspaper group that sends news and sport round-ups. A box includes a synopsis of the story in English.

Associate editor David Lawlor said: "The idea is to draw English-speaking readers onto the pages as well to bring the two communities together rather than ghettoising a certain community.

"We're only scratching the surface so far but there is huge potential. There is a conservative figure of 600,000 Polish people living in the UK. The main problems we have had are trying to specifically target the right shops and trying not to alienate your core readership."

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