Yesterdays ABC circulation figures for the regional newspapers makes for depressing reading for all of us who understand just how important the regional press is in our democracy.
With The Nottingham Post recording the largest slide of any paper in the UK, we are witnessing the final nails being driven into the coffin of what was once a great title.
When TBF sold the paper to Northcliffe, circulation was in excess of 100,000 copies a day, and on the back of this Northcliffe paid £92 million for the title. And then went on to build a expensive new building for the paper to boot.
With the paper now circulating circa 35,000, and the “To Let” signs having gone up on Evening Post HQ, we are seeing the disasterous result of a failure to invest and a failure of vision.
The frankly bonkers decision to fail to exploit the Evening Post brand online, ( exacerbated further still with the recent redesign of the “Thisis” website…) meant that the title has grown increasingly irrelevent in the digital age, were both readers and advertisers need access to the product in a modern fashion that reflects their needs and interests.
In reality this is what happens when the people at the top simply dont understand their product, and the value of the brand. Further still, this precipitous decline has been fueled by the odvious disdain that local managment has for its readers.
The decision to syndicate the very best stories that the papers editorial team generates before the paper itself prints them, is especially galling for the average reader. Why buy the paper if you can read about it online in the Mail or in the Sun the day before? Do they think that their readers are so stupid that this will go unnoticed?
We have seen recently that the paper gave their exclusive interview and pictures of burglar Wayne Bishop, who was freed to look after his children, to the National newspapers before they had a chance to publish the story themselves. The story was then published almost instantly by the Mail online, and then was published by several national titles the next morning, at the same time as the Post.
An excellent story that was capable of boosting the papers circulation was thrown away.
Aside from being deeply insulting to the loyal readership, allowing your competition to profit from the goodwill in your business, defies common business sense.
Northcliffe are engaged in a act of cultural vandalism. They have destroyed the future of the title, destroyed the goodwill that exists in the brand, and destroyed local journalism. The recent rejig of the “Thisis” websites (Which removed the last vestiges of the link with the Post, forming a entirely seperate company.) have moved the emphasis from content generated by the newspaper towards “User Generated” content, and has in fact further damaged the Post brand because of the legacy of goodwill that existed due to the previous close link with the site.
We need good quality strong local journalism. Its oversight role in our local democracy is crucial, and its role in our local culture is essential to a strong cohesive community.
The Nottingham Post’s failure to understand this, and the value of the brand, has lead to a disaster for both the paper, and the people of Nottingham.
There was a time that I thought this could be turned around. But with less than a 5 percent local market penetration, and zero online presence, the paper is no longer relevent. Clearly Northcliffe are going to abandon the paper, and try to shift advertisers onto its “Thisis” platforms, were the cost of content will be zero.
Quite how many quality brands will want to be associated with this content will be interesting to see, considering the low trust placed in user generated content.
I predict 2 things…. more job losses, and a move to weekly circulation.