Newcastle newspapers in intensive care

The Journal - media.jpg

Latest figures from ABC, the body that verifies the circulation of most print, digital and broadcast media, shows a worrying pattern for Newcastle's main newspapers.

Trinity Mirror, one of the UK's big regional newspaper groups, owns Newcastle's two big dailies - The Journal and Chronicle; it also produces the weekly red top, the Sunday Sun. Down in Middlesbrough it prints The Gazette. For the purpose of this short piece, we'll ignore some other products and the remaining Herald & Post free weeklies on Teesside.

ABC figures show big year-on-year falls in print circulations for the three big Newcastle titles. From November 2013 to November 2014, the Chronicle saw sales fall a massive 12per cent; The Journal was down 10.3per cent, while the racy Sunday Sun fell by 7.4per cent for the same period. This is bad news for advertisers, along with PR folk!

The Journal sells a daily average of only 16,858 copies; while the Chronicle is 36,493. With such a rate of annual decline there must come a tipping point for print. There is much speculation that The Journal will change in content and focus, possibly becoming a weekly.

ncjMedia, the Newcastle subsidiary company of Trinity Mirror, has in recent years been bullish about digital progress. It claims strong and growing traffic to ChronicleLive.co.uk and TheJournal.co.uk; dated figures from their own website claim the Chronicle has more than 608,000 unique users on average per month while The Journal has 320,000 plus. So, it seems the traditional news brands are gaining traction with an online audience. There has also been some success with social media.

However, what is less clear is whether ncjMedia is getting the same advertising value online compared to print; the answer, it is believed, is no.

Perhaps more worryinlgy, the latest ABC full month-on-month figures (Oct 2014 - Nov 2014) that combine print and digital editions show falls for both The Journal and Newcastle Chronicle. That's bad news in a digital world.

So where next for our regional press, and particularly the big Newcastle titles?

Perhaps the recent management shake-up at ncjMedia reflected some concern within Trinity Mirror. Clearly, changes need to be made; titles need to be reviewed and refocussed to better reflect the changing behaviour of how people consume news and entertainment. This, it should be noted, also poses a challenge to marketers and the PR industry.

Written by Wayne Halton, MHW PR at 00:00

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