Ipswich daily goes 'back to the community' with weekly extra

Star Weekly is The Evening Star’s alternative to chasing “fire engines and police cars” into the estates

The Evening Star in Ipswich has launched a community news weekly supplement a bid to “get away from fire brigade journalism” .

It follows the paper’s innovative patch-reporting scheme, which was launched six months ago.

Two new reporters were recruited to make a total of nine dedicated to patch work. Each one was given circulation targets and asked to work with a member of the newspaper sales team.

Star Weekly, which launched on 14 September, is an extension of the patch scheme.

It has been sponsored by insurance company AXA in a deal which covers all its production costs. The 20-page pull-out is included with the main paper.

Editor Nigel Pickover said: “It’s had a strong reader reaction so far and we are even getting unsolicited testimonials sent in. We often said that we will go back out to the estates, to virgin territory where no-one else operates.

“Previously we have just dashed out there following fire engines and police cars. The new supplement has strong stories, but they are often tied to a geographic area.

“Some evenings are going away from community news but we will be going back to the community, because that’s where we see our future.”

The Star’s 42p cover price makes it one of the most expensive evening papers in the country.

According to Pickover, the new supplement doubled the paper’s story count on its first day.

Content included a piece about school children in danger from a ratrun road, a plea from a headmaster telling shop-owners not to serve children if they are unruly and details of a sponsored walk being held by staff at an Indian restaurant to help flood victims in Bangladesh.

Pickover said: “The Star is a hard-hitting, campaigning and passionate local daily – and we’ve had an incredible track record of success in recent years – but we realised that there was a flaw in our operation.

“We need to be in the estates much more often, to dig out good stories as well as bad. We need to get away from fire brigade journalism.”

The Archant-owned Evening Star’s last six-month circulation figure was 26,117 copies – down 2.9 per cent year-on-year.

By Dominic Ponsford

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