Thursday, 26 April 2012


The Chronicle and Echo has been mostly silent on it's owners plans for the public executuion of our local daily newspaper since Johnston Press's announcement to move to "Platform Neutral Publishing", and so we still await the date for the final edition and still await details as to the wholly inadequate weekly supplement that will replace it.

I say supplement because in order to satisy the advertisers the Chron will now have to cram it's Property, Motors, Jobs, TV and Business supplements into one bumper addition, no wonder they say it will be over 100 pages thick, but how much news will be included? Well obviously none, as telling us what happened from last Thursday onwards in a Wednesday edition will not be news at all, just a reminder of past news and in spite of the best efforts of the staff I just can't see it working. Take an easy subject like sport, do I really still want to read a match report on last Saturdays game on the Wednesday following? and what point is a review of next Saturdays game on the same Wednesday when the news on who may play and who will not won't be known until the Friday?

And what about Local Democracy, by the time news outs on Council Meetings the agenda would have already moved on! results from elections will be 6 days old by the time they are printed and the chance to hold local Cllrs to account massively diminished by way of dilution, after all cramming six days news into one days copy is no easy task. And who wants to read about boring Cllrs and their antics when their are pages to be filled with pictures of Babies and Pets and aspiring local models to boost the companies photo sales?

Over at the announcements section the deceased will be six foot under the ground before their passing and funeral arrangements are noted in the Chron, and we willall  have to revert to sticking A4 black bordered notices to the local walls to let people know of the passing of loved ones. All in all it will not be a newspaper and it is wrong for Johnston Press to pretend otherwise, but the true acid test of how long the new edition will last will be the number of people who actualy buy it, and that will depend of course on the cost.

With the two FREE papers running a day later on the Thursday (although expect the Mercury to be killed off) what is the upper limit people will be prepared to pay for old news? Well I have heard, and the C&E can prove me wrong if they want, that they will be asking us to stump up a £1 for a copy. If true I would be interested to hear what peoples views are on that price and whether or not they will be prepared to pay it?

One thing though is less sure, given that I am told the nightly edition still washes its face as far as local advertizing income is concerned are Johnston Press Press confident that the same income is secure for inclusion in thier weekly edition and on a hidden file on a website?

Meanwhile the share price for JP shares, once at an all time of £5.50 on the London Stock Exchange has plummeted even further since this brave new world anouncement down from 6.8p to 5.5p.

I was criticized (nicely) for declaring in a comment on the Chron's website that I hoped the company went bust, I make no excuse for repeating the wish. In my view the future of our local paper and others would be better off in the hands of an administrator who could see the benefits of a local buy out or purchase of the business as a going concern rather than left in the hands of the people who have already asset stripped the company and will not be satisfied until they have repeated all of the mistakes that Heart FM made last year when changing a local profile business into a national fog of bland nothingness.

Here is the News, There is no Local News!


  1. Tony, you are milking this to death. Even a newspaper bought today is out of date as it contains yesterday's news. Embrace the the electronic age with RSS feeds where you can tailor the news you want to read about where ever you may be in the world on your pc/laptop/phone/tablet - today's news today, now there is a novel idea. Have we all mourned the demise of the printed Enclyclopedia?, No. The people complaining the most about the demise of the printed newspaper are the ones that like to inflate their sagging ego by seeing their name in print.

  2. Patriot, I long since gave up caring whether or not my name is in print, and as an Independent we are the last to get asked an opinion or quoted. This is also nothing to do with embracing the electronic age, I myself receive my nightly Chron on my iPad, but it has everything to do with holding local politicians to account and covering local news which the atonal will never touch and which can't be achieved on a weekly one off basis. We also now know that the C&E is returning a profit, so it's owners are not changing this from neccecity but simply using the town as a Guinea Pig to see if they can get similar or higher returns whilst delivering less service with a reduced staff.

  3. CastleWardMafia27 April 2012 at 16:29

    Tony you need to check your acccount - I think it's been hacked. The give away was someone on this blog pretending to be you saying they don't care if your name gets in print or not. That's so not the Tony Clarke we know.

    I am taking paracetomol as have a headache with the thought of agreeing with Northants Patriot (at least he didn't blame them asians) but you've got to get over it Tony.

    Do you really think people care that much about local politics they will be bothered about reading about some meeting or other at the Guildhall. I suppose the turn out at local elections in the next few weeks will show us.

    As for wishing the company to go bust? Good to see those job creation instincts kicking in.

  4. CWF, believe me the fascination of reading what you probably didn't say in the press fades after 20 years in the public eye and the prospect of seeing yourself aging in print is even less desirable.

    Unfortunately you are right, too few people do care about local politics, and that is a sad state to be in but removing the connection that a daily newspaper brings between the elected and the electorate will only magnify the apathy.

    As for the company, they are a bunch of neo capitalist chancers and my hope is that if forced into administration through an ever shrinking share price that an administrator may come in an offer up profitable going concerns like the C&E to people who will treasure them not use them as disposable Guinea Pigs in their drive for platform neutral and possibly reader neutral publishing

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  6. While I slightly agree with Northants Patriot, I also kinda agree with Tony too.
    It is a huge shame we have lost a local news paper, yes the news was not "that days" news; yes sometimes it was lest than "impartial" but it was good to have a local paper you could buy each day... having a "weekly" paper just does not work ~ it will probably tell you of events happening that you will miss because it was all a day or so too late!
    The one thing I would like to add, which most people will not have thought of; going "digital" will put far more people out of work than you think...
    Think about all the printers, paper merchants and publishers that will have been put out of work because people "think" (and I say think, because they are led to believe that using more paper is harming trees ~ trust me on this one folks, not true) that paper material is bad for the environment.




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