New Welsh daily targets 'dumbed down' Mail's patch

By Clive Betts

Wales could see two new morning newspapers within a year in
competition with the established Western Mail, in response to perceived
gaps in the market.

The Welsh Globe hopes to launch on 1 March – St David’s Day – next
year to fill the gap its backers say has been left by Trinity Mirror’s
downmarketing of the Cardiff-based Mail.

The group of businessmen
behind the paper is understood to have designated former Western Mail
deputy editor Peter Jones as editor – although Jones refused to comment.

The
other newcomer, the Welsh-language Y Byd (The World) – previously
featured in Press Gazette – is now racing to avoid being pipped at the
post: “It would be better if we appeared first,” said Ned Thomas, who
is attempting to lead Y Byd, which has been several years in gestation,
to birth.

The radical new editorial line espoused by the Western
Mail after years of slowly declining circulation has upset many of its
traditional readers – recent page one headlines include “General Strike
to paralyse country?” (about civil service staff striking over
pensions), and “Zeta drops off world power list” (film star Catherine
Zeta Jones’s earnings and PR mentions fall).

The group behind the
paper is saying little about the names involved. A spokesman with the
company raising the cash said: “This was a hard-nosed business decision
by a number of leading Welsh businessmen as a result of the Western
Mail moving downmarket and leaving an opportunity for a paper that
serves the A, B, C1 market with a truly excellent level of reporting
and comment.”

He said quality would take precedence over the bottom line.

Jobs advertising with the growth of a Welsh-based public service has been identified as a key market.

When
told of the planned launch, Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan said:
“That is good.” The Western Mail no longer has a reporter in the
Assembly’s press gallery, and currently uses its Westminster lobby
correspondent to cover many Assembly running stories.

It is
believed the move was launched in February by a group of nine. One of
the few names known is Elizabeth Haywood, who is married to Welsh
Secretary and Neath MP Peter Hain.

Her involvement is said to have been purely in head-hunting an editor.

Managing
director, it is understood, will be former Mail finance director Chris
Pitson. He was joint managing director of the Western Mail and Echo
until Keith Dye was brought in from the Midlands to run the operation.

Dye took its morning component downmarket under Alan Edmunds, previously editor of Wales on Sunday.

The
newspaper’s name is only a working title. The group intends to base its
offices in Bridgend. It also intends to relaunch the regional editions
that were once a cornerstone of the Western Mail.

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