I have followed the saga of The Argus, Brighton (Press Gazette, 1
July), with interest, not least because we wrote a proposal for our
company to conduct the initial 2003 research. Our costs, despite being
mid-market, proved too much and we didn’t hear from the paper again.
more than 20 local newspaper projects over the past 10 years I could
never imagine dropping community news from a paid-for title (although
an over-generous “free” is a different matter).
At least evening
meetings and football matches will still make it into the following
day’s paper. I share the reservations of the journalists about a
further sales decline. “Beefed up” websites are all very well but – and it seems odd to point this out to a newspaper – people actually like paper product.
well has the impact of reduced editions been tested with readers? It is
the sort of area that an experienced researcher can advise on, with the
help of some focus groups. It is also, in our experience, high risk.
with local newspapers as a researcher has its problems: there is
normally no budget, often research is a step of the “last resort”,
therefore confrontational. Frequently no funding can be found. However,
some of the publications we have worked with are exceptions to this.
research is commissioned it can focus the mind of the team on editorial
– hopefully the experience of one local newspaper ex-editor I spoke to
recently, that he’d “never had a research meeting about editorial
excellence in 25 years of work” is the exception!
Howard Thrift Linda Jones & Partners researcher for The Big Edit