Northern Echo editor: online audience is fine by me

Peter Barron, editor of the Northern Echo, has said he is “perfectly happy” with the idea of an online-only audience in the face of circulation decline across the regional newspaper industry.

Speaking on the BBC Today programme this morning, Barron said “as long as it comes under the Northern Echo banner” he was pleased that people were reading his content in whatever form it was published.

He was pleased with his paper’s “steady circulation” – 1.5 per cent down year on year, with sales of just over 50,000 – and said the Newsquest titles was “a long way” from the online-only scenario.

MediaGuardian commentator and City University lecturer Roy Greenslade also appearance on the programme to make his often-made point that printed, paid-for newspapers are essentially doomed. 

The former Mirror editor predicted that in 20 years there would be no morning regional papers at all. (Though with so many evening papers now printed overnight, many wonder exactly a morning paper is now.) 

“We have to say to ourselves that in 20 years’ time there won’t be any regional morning papers…the truth is we are facing a web world and also a free world,” he said. “Local weekly papers will survive slightly longer but they are heading for the dunghill of history.”

The web was not just to blame: things like the loss of local democracy and transient populations were also culprits.

Press Gazette readers and media watchers will no doubt be familiar with this debate. So how about a discussion on Today next time about what newspapers are doing to survive?

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