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Good article in The Guardian this morning about how local papers are coping with the challenging economic climate. There has been a lot of gloom and doom on this subject but it sounds as if where they deserve to survive they will survive. The article by Stephen Moss says even with the recession "most local papers are still making a profit, admittedly because they have shed many good journalists and other staff."

He then gives an inspirational account of a meeting with Sir Ray Tindle:

The Tindle Group, run by the redoubtable 82-year-old Sir Ray Tindle, has lost virtually no one from its widely distributed 900 staff, yet he insists his network of 230 "hyper-local" titles (which includes such glories as the Barry Gem, the Ceredigion Business News, the Faringdon Folly and Diary, the Forest of Dean Prime of Life, the Hay-on-Wye Express and the Wiveliscombe Messenger) is holding its own. On the day we meet at his office in Farnham, Surrey, where I get a tour of the Farnham Herald and lunch in the boardroom, he has just bought four troubled papers in

Devon.


Times are tough: the Herald's advertising in key sectors has halved. But Tindle – who, after surviving throat cancer in the 1990s, has to keep his thumb pressed against his voice box to speak – is undaunted. Churchill is his hero, and his words are couched in the same cadences:

"We've been though quite a few recessions and two world wars. Our
oldest papers were there before Napoleon!" He says he has never – and will never – close a paper, and loves to tell the story of the way he saved the Tenby Observer in 1978.


"I told the staff I would buy it, provided they could bring it out by
Friday morning so there was no gap," he tells me, chortling. "They said, 'We'll do it.' I said, 'But I want no news from outside Tenby. Cut out Haverfordwest, cut out Milford Haven, cut out Pembroke Dock. I don't want to know. Every line must be about Tenby. The circulation went up from 3,700 to 6,000-odd; the paper went from a loss of £50,000 to a profit of £140,000." Tindle looks through the printout on his

desk. "The Tenby Observer has made £108,605 in this financial year,
and that's in a recession!" he proclaims. "Yet the paper had been dead for three days when I resuscitated it."

It sounds like Sir Ray deserves his knighthood, doesn't it? So there we
have it. If local papers want to succeed they need to try having local
news – not always demanding more advertising from local councils like
moaning minnies.

2 comments for: Good local papers can survive the slump

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