By Sarah Lagan
An independent paid-for weekly has launched in St Austell, Cornwall’s most populated town, where Northcliffe’s Cornish Guardian and West Briton circulate.
St Austell Voice, which cost about £40,000 to launch, is independent newspaper publisher Andrew Laming’s second title in the county, joining the Newquay Voice, which he launched in 2001.
The St Austell paper launched claiming two front-page exclusives on a Methodist minister’s husband who was jailed for harassing her and a police constable who was caught drink driving.
The launch follows sweeping cost cuts and redundancies at the major regional publishing groups following difficult trading conditions, but Laming said that being a small paper will be less damaging.
He said: "It shows another way forward for newspapers; going back to basics. The big regionals are being hit because their revenue depends on the middle of the paper — entertainments, property, supplements and features, supplements, etc.
"They are getting hit in their recruitment by the internet and of course we draw most of our revenue from ROP [display advertising], which is the big difference. That’s why most of the big groups are anticipating falling revenues and are cutting costs, because they are seeing recruitment haemorrhaging to the internet, and they are expecting property to go as well. But with a smaller paper, we can survive on ROP, hence we are not so vulnerable. We see ourselves as a complementary paper."
Nick Hudson is St Austell Voice’s new editor. He previously edited the paid-for weeklies of the Folkestone Herald series, the Coalville Times series in Leicestershire and the Paisley Gazette and Barrhead News for Clyde & Forth Press.
Hudson said that being close to the community will be a key element to the paper’s success. He said: "Conglomerates like Northcliffe seem hell-bent on pulling up the drawbridge and slamming down the portcullis on Joe Public.
"We intend to keep in close touch with our community. We still want people to visit us, see us and speak to us about the issues that are bothering them.
"Our high-tech world has put everything within our reach, but in reality made us more isolated. There will always be a friendly face waiting for the public in our town-centre office."
On top of 56 pages of news there are 12 pages of entertainment, a weekly Night & Day TV guide and eight pages dedicated to local sport.
Deputy editor at Newquay Voice, Matt Bond, has taken over as editor from Laming.