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Johnston Press

New Johnston Press chief executive stresses need to get right balance between print and digital

By Hamish Mackay

November 17, 2011 | 2 min read

New Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield has declared that the answer to the current woes of regional newspaper publishers is getting the right balance between print and digital.

In an interview in The Herald, Highfield pointed out: ”The opportunities are very clear with Johnston Press, as with other regional publishers, because the brands of the local newspapers are incredibly strong in local communities.

“The trick is to help move those brands into the digital age and get the right balance between print and digital.”

Highfield, who took up his new post at the beginning of this month and previously ran Microsoft’s UK consumer and online business and oversaw the launch of the BBC iPlayer, is to examine all options to boost digital revenues as the Edinburgh-based company continues to be hit by the advertising downturn.

Johnston Press, which owns The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post and more than 300 local titles, reported an 8% year-on-year fall in advertising revenues in the 18 weeks to 5 November .

Highfield told The Herald: “I took the job with my eyes open knowing that the regional press has structural challenges.

“I do see an opportunity for stabilising and, hopefully, in a number of areas increasing circulation revenue as well.

“It is quite clear to me that newspapers in print are not dead. It is about finding what audiences need and what mixture of print and digital products to offer them.”

The Scotsman pointed that redesigning its websites and the success of its “Find It” business directory have boosted new media income at Johnston Press – with digital revenues rising by 4.4%.

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