Monday 23 March 2015

Interesting times

The arrival on the scene three weeks ago of two new local newspapers - the Carmarthenshire Herald and the Llanelli Herald - is already making itself felt in the ranks of the existing titles where managed decline has been the motto for years.

Last week the Cambrian News was handing out free copies in Cardigan, which is at the extreme southern end of its range.

The Cambrian News is not a newspaper which features much on this blog, so it was good to get a chance to become re-acquainted with it. It is well written and produced, although its coverage of the Teifi Valley is on the thin side.

Unlike its competitors, the Cambrian has an edition which is squarely focused on Ceredigion, and that should be a strength in the new turf war. Whether a paper costs 60p or 50p or is occasionally handed out for free is neither here nor there, but content certainly is

It remains to be seen if the Cambrian News can make readers in the Teifi Valley feel that they are at the centre of the action rather than outposts teetering on the brink of the vastness of outer space, or as we know it, north-west Carmarthenshire and the northern bit of Pembrokeshire.

Over on the final frontier in Ammanford, the South Wales Guardian editor Steve Adams has been  giving himself a pat on the back for breaking all the paper's first quarter targets. Readers should be warned that he is very fond of hashtags:

It would be rude to ask what those targets actually were, but something which has clearly rattled Stevo is the activities of other, nameless, competitors:

The heavy discounts would appear to be a reference to the Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star which have allegedly responded to the Heralds by slashing the cost of advertising space to what industry observers consider to be suicidally low levels.

One source told this blog that a quarter page in the Journal could have been yours last week for just £40, but the paper vehemently denies this.

The Journal also recently went through a minor revamp, and has got rid of the "local pull-out" in the centre of the paper which made navigating though it like wading through a vat of tepid semolina.

Freebies, price cuts and slashing the cost of advertising are one way of fighting a war, but none of these tactics will produce a healthy local press, and they are in nobody's long-term interest.

An old-fashioned idea, but one which may yet win the day, is investing in journalism.


Blodwen said...

I, and many others, gave up buying or reading the Journal a long time ago once it became nothing more than a mouthpiece for the council and a collection of non-stories and pictures.

It is a pleasure to read the new Carmarthenshire Herald which, in contrast to the tired and bullied old Journal, is not afraid to print the facts as they are (and Cadno is a delight - both very funny and bitingly accurate!).

Well worth 50p of anyone's money.

Redhead said...

Force councils to place advertising in the ratio of sales/internet clicks so that the more interesting a newspaper is, the more advertising a council must place in it!

In our area 95% of a very large newspaper advertising budget goes to the council mouthpiece which just prints their press releases word for word.

We have local and national elections in May and their response: a two-page spread about how hard our (majority party) MP works, 99 percent of that work being far outside and not about the constituency

Anonymous said...

If you'd gone to Tesco in Ammanford last Friday, you could have got a free drink or something with your Carmarthen Journal and if you were at a loose end you could hang around and meet the editor of the CJ in person! Unfortunately time was pressing so I merely left a few words of editorial advice with the lady on the stand and bought the Herald.

Anonymous said...

At Asda, Llanelli, on Saturday, a free large tin of baked beans was on offer with every Llanelli Star, but thinking that this local rag had enough flatulence and not enough objective local reporting, I declined the offer.

Anonymous said...

Three weeks ago in Carmarthen,either a free tin of soup,
Baked Beans or a sachet of dog food was on offer with some newspaper.

Anonymous said...

For past 3 weeks I have been checking in Pontyberem CKs supermarket but they'd not heard of the HERALD. I tried ASDA in Llanelli to get my hands on it in it's second week and no one seemed to have heard of it there. Still not seen one in the flesh as it were. I hope CK's has now decided to supply this Friday's issue. Without you two bloggers I would know nothing about the Herald. I don't listen to local radio so maybe they mentioned it (I'm a Radio 4 and Archers fan sorry)

Jennifer Brown (whistleblower)

JonnyCee said...

ASDA had sold out; CK's refused the delivery even though all other CK stores accepted.