Once again, the weeklies – which make up 81 per cent of all regional newspaper titles in the ABC – are the star performers in the regional firmament. They showed the strongest performance of all sectors, with 59 per cent of them showing circulation gains and the sector enjoying positive growth overall. The number of weeklies showing circulation growth has increased for the fourth consecutive year.
Seven years ago, just 32 per cent of them were showing growth.
One of the top performers was a broadsheet, The Gazette, Hemel Hempstead which put on more than 9 per cent year-on-year between July and December despite some technical problems with the presses that affected availability.
Editor David Feldstein said it was no coincidence that significant rises began to occur after he had removed the earpiece advertising from the front page. It required a bit of “wheeler dealing” with the commercial department, but allowed him to blow up the masthead a little to give it more impact as well as giving the option to show off editorial innovations such as the new property section.
Another bonus was the magazine Hertfordshire Lifestyle, produced for the first Wednesday of each month, which allows his editorial team scope to give different treatments to some stories.
Other impressive growth came from the Doncaster Free Press, which now sells almost 3,000 more copies than it did a year ago; the Dewsbury Reporter, also up by 9 per cent; and the Sheffield Telegraph, up by 7.29 per cent.
The Kent Messenger remains the top-selling weekly title, a position it is likely to consolidate as it folds the Medway edition of the daily Kent Today into the series next month. This follows the success of the Medway Messenger, which sells 22,000 copies a week, one-third more than the Friday issue of Medway/Kent Today that it replaced 18 months ago.