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National World buys local newspaper on verge of closure

Newry Reporter was due to print its final edition on 25 January with the loss of ten jobs.

By Charlotte Tobitt

David Montgomery’s National World has bought the 155-year-old Newry Reporter, a local newspaper in Northern Ireland that was on the verge of closure next week.

The weekly newspaper and e-edition was owned by Edward Hodgett Ltd and last week had announced its final edition would print on Wednesday 25 January with the loss of ten jobs.

Edward Hodgett Ltd, which had owned the paper for 96 years, said in a statement: “Last week it grieved us to announce the profoundly sad news to our readership and further afield, that we would be producing our last edition at the end of January 2023.

“However, we never gave up striving to find a more positive outcome for both our wonderful staff and one of Ireland’s most historic newspapers.”

Last year another local newspaper threatened by closure by owner Edward Hodgett Ltd, the Banbridge Chronicle in County Down, was saved at the last minute by Bann Media Ltd. Edward Hodgett Ltd no longer owns any titles.

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The National Union of Journalists had described the planned closure of the Newry Reporter as a “blow” that would “pierce the very heart of the town”.

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“This is yet another canary in the coal mine moment for local newspapers,” NUJ Irish organiser Ian McGuinness said.

National World executive chairman Montgomery said: “The Reporter has a proud history and National World is committed to uphold and foster its heritage. It is important that its independent editorial voice is protected and plays a part in promoting Newry and the wider region. We are proud to take on that role and support all The Reporter’s staff and contributors in that mission.”

In National World’s latest financial results, published last week, it said it was continuing to look for acquisition opportunities, “primarily targeting businesses that will enhance the group’s digital capability”.

National World has the third biggest share of the UK’s regional daily and weekly market in print.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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