Independent publisher launches second newspaper - fortnightly title for new town in Devon

An independent local newspaper owner has launched a second title covering a new town being built in Devon with hopes that the paper’s readership will grow along with the town’s population.

Stuart Clarke, a former Fleet Street war photographer, launched free fortnightly The Cranbrook News on Friday.

It comes just over a year after he launched his first newspaper – The Moorlander – in July 2016. The fortnightly title broke a national story on NHS wastage in September the same year.

Clarke estimates Cranbrook, a town near Exeter which is in the process of being built up, currently has a population of about 2,500 people and admits that “there isn’t very much there at the moment”.

But, he said: “Cranbrook is going to be a major town in the area with maybe 25-30,000 people in it.

“They are starting to build the major town centre and things like that, but I just think it needs something to pull it together like a community newspaper.”

He added: “I didn’t start it for charity – I can see the potential there.”

The 24-page News will have an initial print run of 2,000 and will be delivered door-to-door, to local hotels, restaurants and cafes with plans to also give it away outside the main railway station.

The newspaper will cover local news, features, events, arts and entertainment and sport, including Exeter City FC and The Exeter Chiefs rugby team.

Clarke, who edits both the Moorlander and the News, said the latter “washed its face” on the first edition and believes that it will become profitable as more advertisers come on board.

He said launching a newspaper was “always a risk”, but added: “I feel reasonably confident about it.”

The Moorlander and the News are produced by a core full-time team of six editorial staff alongside contributors.

Clarke said The Moorlander, which has a 50p cover price (up from 20p at its launch) was “just about breaking even” and had a circulation of about 3,500 (down from 4,000 at its launch).

Clarke said: “The reason why the Moorlander works is because people still like good stories and good journalism.

“We are getting good stories and people are giving us stories… people are venting their spleen through our newspaper, which is what a local newspaper should be.”


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