Hark the Christian Herald's closing

Lou Thomas

The editor of a Christian weekly newspaper due to close in January has blamed its closure on display problems at newsagents.

The
Christian Herald’s Russ Bravo said that the paper used to get regular
displays in newsagents which once accounted for most sales.

He said: “The nature of the news trade has changed over the years.

“Some
years back we used to get regular displays in local newsagents and the
bulk of our sales used to be from local newsagents. What has happened
with the boom in magazines particularly in recent years is that most
newsagents have got no more shelf space and are being told more and
more what titles they have to stock”

Christian Publishing &
Outreach Ltd blames the closure on rising costs, the ongoing decline in
reading among the UK Christian community, the changing nature of the
news trade and the overall decline in advertising revenues in the
newspaper industry.

Bravo said that the situation had reached the
point where the paper was only available for people to order and that
people wouldn’t order if they were not aware of the paper’s existence.

He
said: “We don’t get casual readers and we haven’t had many for a long
time simply because we don’t get displayed unless there are orders.

He
added: “There’s a lot of niche titles that have been hit by the changes
within the news trade and have had to find a way of going direct to
customers almost bypassing it.”

Herald owners Christian
Publishing and Outreach Ltd are launching Inspire, a monthly magazine
to be distributed in churches from March.

Bravo said: “With the
new title we’re bypassing the news trade, we’re going direct to
churches because that’s where the readers are.”

“It’s a different
kind of publication. It’s a recognition that the church is changing as
well as society and the kind of communication tool that might have
worked decades ago. People seem to be reading less, people’s time is
more precious. People are also looking for a magazine to deliver more
to them within a short space of time.”

The company also plans to archive all of the Herald’s issues digitally on the net.

The
deputy editor and and the advertising manager are being made redundant
but other posts are being re-deployed around the company.

The
Christian Herald started life in Glasgow in 1874 as The Signs of Our
Times and hit a circulation peak around 1900 when it sold 250,000
copies a week. A US edition was launched in 1878 and ran until 1992.

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