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Scottish weekly goes tabloid and full colour for first time in 176-year history

A weekly newspaper in Scotland is getting a revamp as it goes tabloid and full colour for the first time in its 176-year history.

The changes to the independently-owned Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press have been made possible as the title’s production will be outsourced to Newsquest’s printing press in Glasgow from next week.

The titles went from a broadsheet into a smaller unique size in 1976 when its existing Goss printing press was built.

But it has been prevented from modernising by the now 43-year-old press, leading to the decision to outsource the newspaper’s printing.

The editorial, advertising and commercial print departments will all remain in Stranraer, with no jobs lost, editor John Cooper told Press Gazette.

Cooper, who took over as editor last month, but started his career on the paper in 1984, explained that the title’s own press is mostly sustained by commercial printing work, such as leaflets or books, which will continue.

The news was announced to readers in a Facebook post on Wednesday night, which read: “Today’s Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press is the last to be printed at the paper’s works in St Andrew Street, Stranraer.

“From next week, the paper will, for the first time in its 176-year history, be full colour throughout and printed on a state-of-the-art newspaper press in Cambuslang, Glasgow.

“It will also change shape, going from its current unique format, which is dictated by the veteran Goss press, to a modern tabloid.

“The new format gives us an opportunity to refresh the look of the paper and to better showcase the work of our journalists and photographers.

“The editorial and advertising departments will remain in the heart of the town and we will continue to cover the Wigtownshire beat from the building that was custom-built for us in 1976 when the newspaper moved from Castle Street.

“Since then, the technology has advanced beyond recognition and it is commonplace across the print industry now for rival newspapers to share a printing press, given their huge complexity and expense.”

Cooper added: “It’s a complete refresh and top-to-bottom facelift. It really is a positive thing, there is no doubt about that. It represents investment by the proprietor in one of the last independent newspapers in the country.”

The Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press is owned by the Earl of Stair.

Printing of The Guardian and Observer titles was outsourced to Reach following their change to a tabloid format, from a  Berliner format, with Guardian Media Group selling off its presses.

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