Torquay’s Herald Express is to become a weekly newspaper from next month – with an unspecified number of editorial positions under threat.
In an announcement on the Northcliffe-owned title’s website this morning, editor Andy Phelan said the last daily edition would be on 15 July and that it will be replaced by a 100-page weekly coming out for the first time on 21 July.
While Northcliffe was unable to confirm how many jobs are under threat, reports suggest half of the 32 editorial staff could face redundancy.
The statement also said that ‘a number of jobs are likely to be affected in the editorial department as a result of the move”, adding that ‘the Herald Express management team has pledged to do everything it can to limit the number of compulsory redundancies”.
Editor Andy Phelan said: ‘The Herald Express has been one of the country’s best-performing daily titles for many years in terms of its circulation figures. Our readers and advertisers have been tremendously loyal and we value them highly.
‘But the world today is very different to how it was in 1925, when the Herald Express was established. People’s lives have changed, we have to change with them.
‘The Herald Express has evolved over the years and this is another step on that journey.
‘By moving to weekly publishing we believe we will be moving more closely in line with the needs of our readers and advertisers.
‘We also believe that in a changing market environment, this is the best way to secure the long-term future of a strong, independent news organisation serving Torbay and South Devon.”
Another Northcliffe title, the Bath Chronicle, went from daily to weekly in 2007. Its last daily circulation figure was 12,363, compared with a current weekly ABC figure of 17,090 – though this was down 4.7 per cent on the previous year.
The Birminghan Post went from daily to weekly in 2009 – it’s sale had fallen below 10,000 a day.
The latest ABC figures for the Herald Express puts its average daily circulation at 21,112 – down 3.7 per cent on the previous year. This makes it one of the better performing regional dailies in the UK.
Phelan said: ‘The Herald Express has been a successful title because of the quality of its staff, and the loyalty of its readers and advertisers, over many years.
‘Six-day publishing served all parties well for the best part of a century, but now we have to adapt to the realities of the market and look to the future.
‘This change means the Herald Express can go forward with confidence, and we can remain fully committed to our role of informing, educating and entertaining the people of this area and helping businesses grow.
‘The Herald Express team will continue to provide unrivalled local news coverage. We will still have far more dedicated journalists on the ground across Torbay and South Devon than any other media organisation.”
Northcliffe managing director Steve Auckland added: “The move to weekly for The Herald Express is part of our strategy to respond to the market and improve the long-term performance of the business. The new improved paper will provide the best possible product for readers in this area while offering a more valuable proposition in terms of advertising revenue.
‘The Herald Express has a fantastic heritage. We will build on that to give readers in the South Devon area a must read with unrivalled news coverage from the area. The early drafts look great – it really is a meaty product.”