View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
March 28, 2017updated 29 Mar 2017 1:36pm

Newspaper run by volunteers undercuts Hastings Observer to win lucrative council advertising contract

By Dominic Ponsford

A community-run fortnightly free newspaper in Hastings has taken the lucrative contract to run council public notice advertising from established local title the Hastings Observer.

Such notices are estimated by thinktank LCiU to be worth up to £70m a year to the UK local press. They are part of a legal requirement on the part of local authorities to advertise information like planning decisions.

The Hasting Independent was launched three years ago by a group of residents who were unhappy about the coverage of the Hastings Observer.

The last time it was audited by ABC, in 2010, the Johnston Press-owned Observer had a paid-for circulation of 32,000 across Hastings, Battle, Rye and Bexhill.

The Hastings Independent, which was launched three years ago, claims a free distribution of 7,500 left at 100 distribution points around the town.

Director Jon Dunham said his title was able to undercut the Advertiser on the cost of running public notices because it employs no journalists and no other full-time staff. The title is entirely run by volunteers.

He did however say that professional journalists write for his title on a voluntary basis and that it provides work experience opportunities for people to enter the profession.

Content from our partners
Free journalism awards for journalists under 30: Deadline today
MHP Group's 30 To Watch awards for young journalists open for entries
How PA Media is helping newspapers make the digital transition

He said the title is a mix of local, national and international news with a left-wing political stance. Hastings Borough Council is currently controlled by the Labour Party.

Dunham declined to reveal how much the council ads contract was worth, but he said that it would cover one third of the newspaper’s production costs.

A spokesperson for Hastings Borough Council said that the advertising was put out to tender and the Hastings Independent was the most competitive bid. They said some public notices could still be placed with the Observer on occasions when its weekly distribution is more appropriate.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network