Coventry Telegraph move aims to boost sales

Editor of the Coventry Telegraph Alan Kirby has justified his decision to turn the evening daily into a morning paper by pointing out that only one page lead in his current issue was a late-breaking news story.

The paper is to focus on reaction to the news and the internet will be used to break time-sensitive stories. Kirby hopes to increase circulation by having the paper on sale for longer.

Press Gazette has learned from an inside source that the Trinity-owned paper is set to save more than a quarter of a million pounds through cheaper distribution — the paper will share distribution costs with national morning titles, rather than going out on its own in the afternoon. Kirby insists the move was not motivated by cost-cutting.

He said: "I know there are savings, but this has nothing to do with that. I was concerned about the drop in circulation and I was looking at opportunities.

Ultimately it was discovered that if we went down a wholesale distribution route, which we will do, it will actually save us money, but that's fortuitous.

"In today's paper there is one page lead which is today's news. It's a serious crime story about a man who was shot last night, but every other page is full of non-time-sensitive news and that is what people are buying it for — the comprehensive news and information that is local and exclusive to the Coventry Telegraph."

Kirby pointed out than when Peugeot announced the closure of its Coventry factory at 1pm, with the loss of 2,300 jobs, the current Telegraph deadlines meant it couldn't run the story in that day's paper but published a special edition and sold 1,500 copies.

Kirby said: "My regular readers all missed it, but [the following day] we published eight pages of reaction from families, workers and people who were devastated by the news. Nobody could match us. Those pages were available from early morning to late afternoon. In future they will be available from 6am."

The NUJ has attacked the move believing it is a shortsighted measure to save money that "spells disaster for a well-loved evening paper".

Staff are being consulted over new shift patterns.

The Press in York, the Bolton Evening News and the Lancashire Telegraph are among other evening papers to recently switch to morning publishing.

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