Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Proof that newspapers have a future

Dyson at Large

Message for all doom-mongers: if printed newspapers are supposedly in a dying fly position, how come I'm thumbing through a 236-page weekly right now?

Yes, you heard that right, the 236-page edition of the Chester Chronicle, dated 21 October 2010.

So huge, in fact, that the presses have to print the paper in two lots, both stapled, the first 'main book' made up of 112-pages, the second 'Classified' section containing 128-pages.

The latter was mainly a local house-buyers' bible, the first 103 pages packed to the rafters with property ads from 33 estate agents across Cheshire, more traditional sales, services, agriculture and motoring classifieds appearing from page 105 to 128.

These had to be carried over to the main book, with two pages of Public Notices, a page worth of BMDs, an eight-page 'Recruitment' section, two pages of entertainments and a four-page pull-out of reader holidays.

On top of this healthy revenue from classifieds, there were 96 display ads squeezed in throughout that main book, proudly showing that that in and around Chester the printed newspaper is alive and kicking.

As far as content is concerned, personally I preferred the page three lead to the choice of splash, although I'm sure experienced editor Eric Langton knows what his readers want.

He decided on 'REVEALED: £7M MARKET OFF THE WALL' for page one, unveiling plans for a new market hall linked by a footbridge to the historic city walls.

Langton is probably right, as we all know shoppers and market traders are among the most fervent of local newspaper addicts.

But I did like the page three tale, temptingly headlined: 'I will kidnap your baby, shoot your family and burn your house down.'

This was a report from Chester Crown Court, telling how a teenager with a grudge used Facebook to land the brother of his girlfriend in police custody before his cruel fraud was discovered.

Other stories that caught my eye on a first perusal included:

  • 'Leave our cats alone' on page seven, an 11-year-old pictured pleading for yobs to stop throwing bricks at a colony of feral cats;
  • 'Mind numbing tragedy' on pages eight and nine, a spread of reports on church-going Jean Laithwaite who shot her husband as he slept before committing suicide;
  • 'TV's Stephen visits city to mourn friend' on page 11, telling how comedian Stephen Fry had twittered about his stay in Chester; and
  • 'Firms plead guilty over fatal fireball' on page 21, reporting the inquiry into the death of a worker killed by exploding aerosols in a local factory.

    In total, there were well over 450 individual reads in 74 pages of news, features and sport, including a six-page 'Celebrations' section, 10 pages of 'The Guide' covering entertainments, three pages of 'Community News' in six-point, four pages of business and eight pages of sport.

    Not bad value for the Trinity Mirror-owned Chronicle with a cover price of 77p.

    Like everywhere else, of course, recession-hit readers in Cheshire have been watching the pennies, and so there was a -7.5pc decrease in readers to 20,224 according to the Latest ABCs

    But I still want to see Bob Satchwell waving a copy of this weighty title in the air when he introduces the session on the future of printed newspapers at the Society of Editors' Conference in Glasgow on Monday.

    For within it lies proof that newspapers – if their custodians take a little more care of them – have a future that will extend far beyond the latest inane predictions.

  • Sex ad rating: a poor four out of ten. 'Mistress Dawn' and 'Top Totty' were just two of twenty adverts on page 109 of the classified book that I reckon might have been offering something more than a head massage.

    Source: Holdthefrontpage.com

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