Independent free weekly for Bristol marks 500th edition as Trinity Mirror closes rival title because of 'changing reader habits'

An independent local newspaper title in Bristol which launched at the height of the 2008 financial meltdown is celebrating publishing its 500th edition.

The Week In prides itself on campaigning and holding those in power to account.

It reaches this publishing milestone as the UK’s largest local newspaper group, Trinity Mirror, this week announced the closure of rival free weekly the Bristol Post.

Trinity blamed “changing reader habits” on the closure of its free title for Bristol, which had a weekly circulation of 55,000.

The Week In is based in Keynsham (between Bristol and Bath). The 32/40-page B4-size title is distributed via 400 retails outlets. It claims a pick-up rate in excess of 95 per cent.

Owner Stephen Rodgers has a background in travel marketing and public relations.

 

Talking about his decision to launch the title, he said: “At the time, there was plenty going on in the Keynsham area but the community lacked a local voice.

“The town’s weekly newspaper (part of the Bath Chronicle at the time) had actually closed 15 years before but people still talked about it like it was yesterday.

“Issue one was produced with a staff of three and for the first two years, I produced a weekly newspaper while still running the marketing business.”

Revenue comes solely from advertising and turnover for 2017 was said to be just under £250,000.

Rodgers said: “Because I had an existing business, I was fortunate in being able to limit the start-up costs but even now the permanent staff numbers four and we all share a tiny office. Two sell adverts, two of us write and I do the admin. We buy in design services and the delivery team is mainly retired guys who enjoy getting out and about with the papers each Wednesday.

“While adverts bring in the revenue, the editorial content is key to the growing success and the reason so many copies are picked up in the first place. It is something of a virtuous circle in that people don’t simply pick up The Week In because it’s there, they actively seek it out each Wednesday and woe betide us if the lorry is ever late with the delivery.

“The Week In has gained a reputation for scrutiny and holding to account over the years and has been behind local campaigns over issues like housing development or car parking. It has retained credibility with readers and remained independent in its reporting.

“Much of this is down to Becky Feather, who joined me in 2013. Her background in journalism has included local publications like the Bath Chronicle and was already a familiar face in local council chambers.”

To mark issue 500 Rodgers has written a book called Week in Week Out which chronicles the title’s first ten years.

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