Northcliffe merges Kent weeklies

Northcliffe has merged two of its paid-for weekly local papers in Kent.

The Medway News, which has a circulation of 8,901 in the first half of 2008 according to ABC, has merged with the Medway Standard, which has an ABC of 3,212. The new paper is called The News.

The merger coincides with staff at Sittingbourne and Chatham offices moving to a new ‘multimedia centre’in Gillingham.

The North Kent Media Centre, on Gillingham Business Park, is now home to the East Kent Gazette – which had been based on Sittingbourne High Street for 150 years – the Faversham Times, Sheppey Gazette and The News.

The former editor of the Medway portfolio left the business in December.

A statement from The News said the new paper would have sections for Chatham, Rochester, Gillingham, Strood and Rainham.

It said of the new editorial centre: ‘Reporters on all the titles, armed with laptops and mobiles, regularly visit their designated patches to keep on top of local issues by being at the heart of all things local.”

Sittingbourne is nine miles from Gillingham, and Chatham is two miles.

Christine Rayner, multimedia editor at The News, said: ‘The move is working well, although packing up and moving offices had been hard work, especially as the East Kent Gazette had been on the same site in Sittingbourne High Street for more than 150 years.”

Northcliffe annouced this week it is closing the Weston & Worle News, a 23-year-old newspaper in Somerset, and making seven staff redundant.

Operating profit at Northcliffe Media fell by £25m year on year to £68m last year.

Property advertising revenue fell 22 per cent, motors advertising fell 12 per cent, and recruitment advertising fell 11 per cent.

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