Unionist platform affords News Letter a morning lift

By Lou Thomas

The Birmingham Post and Ulster’s News Letter were the only morning regional titles in the UK to buck the downward trend in circulation.

In Northern Ireland the News Letter, the oldest surviving daily newspaper in the English-speaking world, managed a rise of 0.7 per cent to 28,616. Editor-inchief Austin Hunter said that the figures were the best circulation growth the News Letter had seen for eight years.

He said: "We do a lot of serious sport and we do very serious news, particularly in politics. Our readers are very political. We’re the Unionist newspaper in Northern Ireland so we’ve become the platform for, I admit very strongly the platform for, Unionist debate in Northern Ireland.

"The readers and the politicians within Unionism come to us when they want to say something or have a little go at one another. We give them the forum for that every day."

Bulk sales are believed to account for much of the Post’s rise; only 81.2 per cent of the title’s sales are actively purchased.

Acting editor Tony Lennox said: "The Birmingham Post has seen some very positive signs of recovery. It is as powerful a voice in the city as it ever was and is now being listened to as never before. We’ve got lots of initiatives in the pipeline to continue to improve the quality of the paper."

Welsh title The Western Mail fared the best of the rest, dropping 0.7 per cent to 42,956.

Western Mail editor Alan Edmunds said: "We’re pleased to have a strong performance against the period in 2004 when we changed to a compact format.

A lot of it is to do with well-managed availability, carefully managing the numbers you print. We have managed that very well through a well-focused newspaper sales operation."

The worst decrease in circulation was at the Liverpool Daily Post, where circulation dropped 7.2 per cent to 18,741.

This contrasted markedly with figures from this time last year that showed the Post increasing circulation by 4.2 per cent following a major relaunch.

Jane Wolstenholme, editor of the Post, said in a statement: "Our trend is similar to that of newspapers right across the UK and is influenced by the growth of multimedia. That is something we are very much embracing and digital development is top of the Liverpool Daily Post’s agenda at the moment."

The Daily Ireland, the only new paper to appear in the sector, had a first ABC figure of 10,017.

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