Print-first free upmarket weekly newspaper to take on Local World in Tunbridge Wells

A new upmarket free weekly newspaper is set to launch in Tunbridge Wells with a print-first publishing model in competition with the Local World-owned Courier.

The Tunbridge Wells Courier has an audited weekly sale of 9,220 (price 90p) every Friday.

The Times Tunbridge Wells will have a free distribution of 30,000 available every Wednesday at a variety of retail outlets and from 6am at railway stations.

The title is being launched by One Media And Creative UK which six years ago launched a free monthly lifestyle magazine in the town called So Tunbridge Wells.

The moves comes two months after Trinity Mirror closed seven newspapers in Berkshire and Surrey towns which had more than one local publication.

The Times of Tunbridge Wells will employ the equivalent of four full-time journalists and also use freelance photographers.

Editorial director Richard Moore, a former news editor of Sunday Mirror, said: “The main focus will be on print with some presence online. The Courier’s main emphasis is online, our main focus will be to provide quality print copy.

“We will have a more serious news approach and also cover national news.

“We won’t try to compete with the Courier on sport or cover court cases or school photo shoots.”

Moore said his title will nclude more business and national news aimed at appealing to commuters who pick the paper up on their way into London.

“We aim to buck the trend and show that there’s still a viable market for the right local weekly.

"During the six years we have been producing So magazines we have got to know the local market and the needs of readers and advertisers extremely well. We have identified a niche in that market and believe the new title will be well received.

“There is still, in our view, a vital role for the right kind of local paper that can be viable and make money. To make that happen, though, you have to break the mould and get away from the more traditional approach to a local paper and that's what we plan to do.

"Our intention is to focus on a very tight area in and around Tunbridge Wells and to saturate that area with copies of a quality newspaper that has serious local content reflecting the businesses and culture of the town. We won’t be looking for cats up trees.”

The 64-page newspaper will go to press on a Tuesday night.

Moore said: “We are not in this for the short term. We are committed to creating a quality local newspaper that becomes part of the social fabric of Tunbridge Wells, and achieving that will take time.

“We are, however, confident that this is exactly what will happen, given the resources allocated to the development, production and distribution of the newspaper.”

One Media and Creative UK Ltd also publishes So Sevenoaks and So Wealden and is part of Markerstudy Leisure.

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