EADT editor Hunt on 'demise' of local press - 'it's not true'

Eastern Anglian Daily Times editor Terry Hunt has made a spirited defence of his newspaper to mark Local Newspaper Week – assuring readers it has a ‘long and bright future”.

‘If you’ve heard any doom-mongers predicting the demise of local newspapers recently, let me tell you something: It’s not true,’said Hunt, adding: ‘At least, it’s not true here.”

In an article that appeared in the paper this week, Hunt said more than 90,000 people read the newspaper in an average day, and that the EADT was one of only a handful of dailies that had increased their circulation.

According to the most recent ABC figures the paper’s average circulation in the last six months of 2011 was up 0.3 per cent to 29,771, but this figure includes 1,954 bulks. Paid-for sales gave declined.

Hunt said that in April, 260,000 different people visited the EADT website and looked at more than one million pages in total, adding: ‘So, if you add together the number of people who read the newspaper and the web visitors, we have well over 100,000 readers each day. And the number is growing.”

He went on to quote the results of reader research which it asked 1,700 adults in the area a series of questions about the newspaper and its website.

Almost 80 per cent said they trusted the paper, 20 per cent didn’t express an opinion and ‘only a tiny percentage said they didn’t trust us”, said Hunt,

He claimed similar research for the national press – carried out before the hacking scandal and Leveson Inquiry – gave them a ‘trust rating’of just 42 per cent.

‘If the EADT has a foundation stone, it is called trust,’he said. ‘If we don’t have the trust of our customers, then we might as well switch off the lights and go home.

‘That’s what I tell every young journalist, some of them rather gung-ho, who walks through the door. That precious quality has to be cherished and valued. Without the trust and goodwill of the community, we simply don’t exist.”

Readers were also asked to come up with a word which they felt ‘best summed up this newspaper”, and the answer was ‘modest”.

‘At first, I didn’t know what to make of that,’said Hunt. ‘What does modest mean when applied to a newspaper?

‘But, after thinking long and hard, I really like that description now. What I believe it means is that the EADT doesn’t shout and scream, it doesn’t presume to tell its readers what to think.

‘It tries to report, fairly and faithfully (two words stolen from [founding editor] Sir Frederick Wilson’s very first editorial) and to leave its readers to make up their own minds on subjects.”

He went on to list some of the paper’s recent campaigns including helping to raise £3m in less than 12 months to pay for a new children’s hospice in Ipswich, and its Surviving Winter Appeal.

This week it also launched, along with Norfolk sister title the Eastern Daily Press, a campaign to raise £50,000 to help equip the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

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