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Good editing and good value can still build good local newspaper circulations, says Preston

Media pundit and former editor of The Guardian, Peter Preston, say good editing and good value can still build local newspaper circulations.

Peter Preston

Writing in The Observer, Preston commented: “There's nothing to be surprised about when papers like the Yorkshire Evening Post or Nottingham Post lead the queue of ABC regional press losers year-on-year - forfeiting 14% or more circulation in the last 12 months.

“Evening papers, extinct in the US, wilting fast over here simply because of distribution problems and changes in working patterns, have been dying for 50 years.

“Why, then, is the Dundee Evening Telegraph up rather than down?

“The difficulty with crying doom for the regionals is that local is a condition, not a general blight.

“Good editing and good value can still bring a reward.

“See the Packet series in Cornwall: see Archant's papers in East Anglia. And just look at the variations within a single region and single group: the Accrington Observer, down 10.9%; the Middleton Guardian, down 11.3% – but the Stockport Express and South Manchester Reporter virtually unchanged.

“Yes, I know it's a duff comparison between paid-for papers and free ones …but whoever said money changing hands wasn't part of this equation, too?”

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