Scottish weekly Barrhead News claims a hard-hitting tabloid approach has enabled it to notch up more than 5,000 sales for the first time in its 100-year history.
The paper, based near Glasgow, sold more than 5,000 for the first three weeks in March – as much as 25 per cent up year-on-year.
Circulation has been boosted by a string of front-page exclusives on the exploits of a lawless local gang known as the Barrhead Youth Team.
Tom McConigley took over as group editor of the Paisley Gazette series, which includes the Barrhead News, in January 2003. He previously worked as a sub-editor on the Scottish Sun and news editor on the Clydebank Post.
He said: “Circulation has shot up and I think it’s because we are getting a lot more exclusive stories. The first thing I did when came in was say ‘let’s get some hard-hitting stuff in here’.
“We’ve also been trying to put together some really good front pages – we are up against a lot of competition on supermarket shelves, so the paper has to look good as well have great stories inside.”
The News first hit the 5,000-mark with a story predicting that a vigilante crew was planning to dispense summary justice to the Barrhead Young Team.
The following week, the News reported that seven gang members had been beaten up in the course of a weekend.
Another exclusive, by reporter Tristan Stewart-Robertson, revealed how an all-girl offshoot of the Young Team had boasted on the internet about drinking, fighting and sex.
McConigley said: “We can’t be as sensational as the nationals – they can come in and cause a bit of damage but we can’t.
“We’ve got to keep the respect of our community, but at the same time we’ve got to be hard-hitting – it’s all about getting that balance.”
By Dominic Ponsford