Something for the weekend Citizens

New Saturday Citizen includes seven-day TV listings magazine

Northcliffe Newspapers has made a sizeable investment – £20,000 a year in newsprint alone – to make the Saturday edition of Gloucester’s Citizen, into a Weekend Citizen, which will sell through Sunday and Monday.

The Weekend Citizen is a big package of a 48-page newspaper – there are six extra pages of sport and two of national news – and a 40-page, colour listings magazine designed after research showed readers would be likely to buy only the Citizen if it had listings and more national news.

With the title’s companion sports paper, the Pink ‘Un, coming out on the same day, editor Ian Mean believes he has a weekend winner. The first issue on 25 January resulted in the sale of 3,236 extra copies, a rise of 11.8 per cent on the previous week, and 1,650 on the same Saturday last year.

But he gives credit where it is due. He stole the idea, he freely admits, from another Northcliffe title, the Bristol Evening Post, after he found a Weekend Post at a shopping centre.

“All the best ideas are either stolen or copied – there isn’t much original in newspapers,” he said. “I thought this might be something we could develop as a strategy to keep the newspaper on sale for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Fifteen years ago, Saturday was the worst day of the week for national newspapers. Then they put in seven-day listings magazines and it became the best-selling day of the week.”

Mean is pleased with the raised sale but said: “Obviously the proof is going to be in how long this can be maintained. But it was a great start.”

The TV listings guide had been planned before he arrived. To coincide with its launch, he decided to re-brand the newspaper. Mean has had backing from his managing director, Colin Davison, to increase sports pages in the paper from five to 11 – for the first time, the paper is printing racecards on Saturdays – and to add an extra page of national news.

The Saturday paper is printed at around 11pm on Friday which gives Mean the chance to beat some of the West Country editions of the nationals and still have it on the streets to catch shoppers at 8.15am. His sports team was coping with the extra work admirably, he said.

By Jean Morgan

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