- Fortnightly titles will have initial print run of 10,500 and 50p cover price
- Company has identified a ‘long list’ of news gaps
- Sir Ray Tindle ‘a big supporter’
Three new hyper-local newspapers will be launched in the Northamptonshire towns of Corby, Wellingborough and Kettering next month.
The new fortnightly titles from independent publisher Extra Newspapers will go live in April after 14 months of research into “news gaps” across the UK which found that Corby – with a population of around 55,000 – had no dedicated newspaper.
Extra Newspapers managing editor Stuart Parker, who has worked in newspapers for more than 40 years, said the newspapers would be similar to those launched by another newspaper veteran, Sir Ray Tindle.
‘I watched the TV the other night in the North West and the first five stories that came up on the TV, three were murders, one was a problem at a hospital and someone had died in mysterious circumstances,’he told Press Gazette.
‘I think there’s a lot more going on in the community than things like that and that’s what we’re trying to achieve. There’s a lot of good things in communities and I think sometimes people just need a slap on the back.”
The titles, which will have start-up circulation of 10,500 and a cover price of 50p, will be complemented by an online presence.
Parker and his team identified a ‘long list’of UK towns they felt weren’t being served locally but Corby, Wellingborough and Kettering ‘shuffled to the front”. Seven jobs have been created in the region including two in editorial.
Parker added: ‘If you look at Ray Tindle – he’s a master at this. He’s my mentor… we’ve had some good conversations. He knows what I’m doing and he’s a big supporter
‘A few years ago people used to just turn their nose up at Ray. The big boys thought Ray was messing about – well he’s not messing about with 280-odd papers is he?
‘It’s simple stuff: we keep the cost base down to minimum. We’re building from the bottom up basically.”
Newspaper ‘doom mongers’
Johnston Press‘s Kettering-based Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph currently circulates in Wellingborough and Corby and the publisher also prints a number of weekly Citizen series titles in the area.
Parker, however, said Extra Newspapers does not see itself as being in competition with Johnston.
‘The Evening Telegraph isn’t competition, we’re not in their league,’he said. ‘I don’t like saying that we’re up against Johnston Press because that would be daft. We can’t take people on like that.’
Despite the general decline in print readership Parker remains optimistic, describing those who predict the death of newspapers as ‘doom mongers”.
‘Some people have made a lot of money out of the web but I can’t see for the life of me how newspapers are going to make money out of the web,’he said. ‘I can’t see how it’s going to happen.”
Parker began his career at the Middlesbrough Gazette, followed by spells at the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, the Daily Express, the Liverpool Echo and the Manchester Evening News.
Since leaving the MEN in the 90s he has overseen numerous launches, including the monthly Independent newspaper series in the North West.
He insisted: ‘I’m not being smart, I’m not being clever. I’ve not reinvented anything, I’ve just looked and thought, ‘well let’s have a go’.
‘We’re being realistic with our models, we’re not going for 90-odd pages. It’s a realistic pagination and a realistic revenue budget. The low overheads allow us to do that.’
The titles will be edited by former Derby Telegraph journalist Judith Halliday. Parker said his company was eyeing further launches in the near future.
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