Danny Lockwood, former editor of the Dewsbury Reporter and Lancaster Guardian, is launching a new newspaper in the Dewsbury area directly against his old employers, Regional Independent Media.
Lockwood, currently coy about launch details, will be the publisher, backed by local entrepreneurs and with another former RIM staffer managing the advertising.
Lockwood did tell Press Gazette: "This is very much an independent publishing venture. We hope it will be the start of quite a number of publishing opportunities, beyond this area.
"It’s a very exciting new business model and one that will make the big boys sit up and take notice. I think it’s safe to say the industry won’t have seen a launch quite like this in terms of how newspapers are published."
He signed the lease on an office in the town last week and has already taken out John Wilson, the editor of the local RIM group, to tell him he is returning to publishing before Wilson hears it from anybody else.
Lockwood expects plenty of competition from RIM. "I was the acting managing director at the Reporter group for the past six months I was there and I wrote most of their business plans for six years. "So if I didn’t think there was a business niche I could exploit I wouldn’t be throwing mine and other people’s money down a bottomless pit of van-
ity publishing," Lockwood stressed.
An advertisement for trainee news reporters for the new paper, thought to be a weekly, promises an average starting salary and profit-sharing.
"But you will be working alongside an editor with a long track record of producing award-winning journalists and papers. You will learn digital photography on the job, and probably subbing as well," it reads.
Lockwood quit the chair of the Lancaster Guardian and RIM a year ago to set up a business, NewsPost, from his Dewsbury home, training journalists. He knows the area very well, having started as a trainee himself at the Dewsbury Reporter, later returning as editor-in-chief of the Reporter group in 1993.
He launched two newspapers in the six years he was there and increased circulation by 20 per cent.
After an unhappy period editing a Newscom paper before the group was taken over by Newsquest, Lockwood returned to RIM on the Guardian.
Any clause in Lockwood’s leaving contract with RIM that he would not launch against the group is likely to have expired.
RIM chief Chris Oakley said: "We have heard rumours that a new newspaper is to launch. I think it’s very healthy that people believe there is room in the market for new publications all the time. We look forward to seeing it but we are never daunted by competition."
Lockwood said: "I have got more than 300 relatives in Dewsbury alone.
"If I can talk all of them into buying a couple of copies, I’ll have a good start."
By Jean Morgan and Paula Beck