NS chair: Total belief in long-term success of local press

  • Sir Ray Tindle: ‘Local weeklies will survive and live forever’
  • Advertising Association forecasts return to growth for regional press

Newspaper Society president and KM Group chairman Geraldine Allinson has affirmed her ‘total belief in the long-term success of local newspapers”.

Speaking on a visit to regional publisher Tindle Newspapers, Allinson pointed to the success of her company’s newest paid-for newspaper, the Sittingbourne News Extra.

Figures published by KM Group last week showed the weekly paper, which was launched in December, has an average circulation 5,687 and an estimated 16,146 readers.

‘It is important to remember one fundamental truth: that no other medium can replicate the role of local media, in print and online, in scrutinising those in authority, supporting local businesses and campaigning on behalf of readers,’said Allinson.

‘Indeed, in tough economic times, the importance of community is greater than ever as people seek out a sense of belonging and connection… Local papers have more journalists on the ground than any other medium; they are the only meaningful way for people to connect with communities.”

She added: ‘In good times and bad, people will always need to know what is going on around them and they will always need local news – which is why I have a total belief in the long-term success of local newspapers.”

Sir Ray Tindle said: ‘A local newspaper plays a major role in its community. Without it local democracy would suffer a considerable blow, local trade would wither, residents would not be informed in any depth about happenings in the council and the courts, local sport would have very little coverage, parents would not have in-depth news of their children’s schools or potential schools, or the local churches and clubs and women’s organisations.”

Stressing the importance of local coverage, Tindle cited the example of the West Wales Observer. Sir Ray bought the title in the 1970s and changed its name back to the Tenby Observer, and brought it back into profit within three months.

He said the paper had remained in profit ever since,’even through the four years of this worst-ever recession”.

He also noted that all local weekly newspapers had ‘taken a caning for revenue like the rest of the press and the rest of business in the UK but only 1.1 per cent of local paid-for titles have closed [in the past 10 years] which supports the view that local weeklies will survive and live forever”.

‘Let us not allow others to denigrate the press of this country,’he said.

‘It is the finest in the world – both nationals and locals. We have the finest journalists in the world and the finest newspapermen and women… Paid-for local newspapers have survived despite world wars and recessions and more recently, the coming of commercial radio, television, free sheets and the internet…”

The latest Advertising Association (AA) forecasts for the regional press, meanwhile, expect a return to advertising growth in the fourth quarter of this year.

This will be followed by continued growth throughout 2013, resulting in full year growth of 1.6 per cent on 2012

Full year figures for 2011 show that national newspapers declined by 7.1 per cent, regional newspapers by 9.6 per cent and magazines by 8.5 per cent. B2B magazines were the worst hit, dropping by 14.6 per cent in 2011.

The AA said that free newspapers were the worst hit of the regional newspapers, declining by 14.5 per cent, while regional daily and Sunday titles fell by 5 per cent and paid weeklies by 6.3 per cent.

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