Press Gazette May edition: Booze, breaking up with the Mercury and the bastards who nearly killed the regional press

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In the May edition of Press Gazette magazine we take a fresh look at a journalistic tool which has been much-maligned at the Leveson Inquiry – alcohol – as we launch a campaign in support of Free-range Journalism.

In the spirit of journalistic inquiry Press Gazette contributing editor John Dale went for a very long lunch with former News of the World chief investigator Noel Botham. “How do you write a headline?” Botham asked, “If you haven’t had a drink at lunchtime?”

In what is one of the most powerful pieces I’ve had the privilege of publishing in Press Gazette, award-winning Leicester Mercury feature writer Adam Wakelin tells the story of his decision to take voluntary redundancy. He said he wrote the piece for himself and was doubtful about sending it to Press Gazette. But I’m glad he did, it’s a compelling, hilarious and ultimately tragic account of a story which is unfolding at newsrooms across the country. In his case it begins with Project Hockey Stick and ends with fancy dress Fridays.

Channel 4 News reporter Carl Dinnen on how the broadcaster fell foul of a UK law which could see individuals jailed for speaking to journalists. Whilst researching a story about the Real IRA he spoke to two sources who ended up in police cells after professing their support for the paramilitary group.

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield answers Press Gazette’s questions about his plans to shift the company from print to digital over the next eight years, increase turnover and more than double profits. “The movie industry in the 1980s did what we are now looking at doing at Johnston Press. It is about recognising that digital is an increasingly important part of the mix, but still loving the original format…I think our relaunched weekly newspapers should have an indefinite life.”

We look at the winning formula behind one of the UK’s most successful web-only journalism ventures – Future Publishing’s TechRadar. With nine full-time journalists and a profit-margin nearing 50 per cent it is poised to take on the US market.

Former Newspaper Society President Chris Oakley provides an in-depth look at the pursuit of ever higher profit margins which he says helped sow the seeds of current crisis in the UK regional press. And he should know, he set the ball rolling for the 1990s and 2000s take-over spree by leading a management buyout of the Birmingham Post and Mail titles for the then record price of £125m in 1991. He warns: “The real losers from the financial folly of the past decade are communities up and down the country which are now worse informed than a century ago, a depressing outcome in what is supposed to be the age of information overload.”

Observer home news editor Mark Townsend reveals how he door-stepped brothel keepers in Croydon in the hunt for a missing sex-trafficking victim.

Sport Magazine editor Simon Caney reveals how the free weekly went from administration to becoming a £1m a year cash machine for owners UTV.

Six of the best with Alan Geere. The best editor he’s ever worked with? David Montgomery.

Tips from the top from the youngest deputy editor no Fleet Street – Archie Bland.

If You Ask Me with former Daily Star editor Brian Hitchen: “I fear for the future of newspapers because so many are mediocre.”

Exit Interview with former Times Scotland editor Magnus Linklater…

And lots, lots more.

Press Gazette magazine is packed with features, analysis, tips, insight, gossip, wit and wisdom which anyone who earns their living from journalism should find absolutely essential.

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