Seven new local weekly papers are launching in South London this week. The titles are being launched by newspaper entrepreneur Sir Ray Tindle and cover the same patch as the South London Press but with a more hyperlocal feel.
The titles will cover Streatham, Brixton, Wimbledon, Wandsworth, Dulwich, Deptford & New Cross, and Forest Hill & Sydenham and are going on sale for 50p on Friday.
I’m not sure what I think about this plan. Launching seven new papers when circulation is falling for just about every newspaper across the country is either very brave or just plain stupid. And I can’t quite work out which it is.
Either Tindle is an absolute genius and everyone should be following his advice of opening new papers when revenue starts to fall. Or we’re going to see the Tindle Newspaper Group lose a lot of money and have to close. Again, I can’t quite work it out.
But the success of the Chingford Times, a hyperlocal newspaper that Tindle launched about a year ago, suggests that the new titles might actually do very well. Unfortunately I can’t find circulation figures for the Chingford Times, but I was on placement with the Yellow Advertiser last summer and the Chingford Times is run out of the same office and I know it was being received well.
However, there have been other hyperlocal papers that haven’t been as fortunate in their launch. The Scene series in Harlow and East Herts was closed by Archant in June 2011 just nine months after the four titles were launched.
While I’m unconvinced of how successful the new newspapers will be, I do think that the trend towards hyperlocal is a good thing. People are more interested in what is going on in their community and how it affects them. And, if the Chingford Times is anything to go by, Tindle seems to know how to launch a successful newspaper, even when the industry is facing decline.
And of course there is the question as to whether seven new titles means more jobs. Well, this one seems a bit up in the air. Hold The Front Page report “the matter was being kept under review”. But a post by a member of the Hold The Front Page community group on Facebook suggests that they have taken on new staff for the launch. So, who knows really?
I think the launch of these new hyperlocal papers will be one to watch over the next few months. It’ll be interesting to see if they are successful and if the South London Press suffers drastically on the circulation front as a result.
And if the new titles are successful, will this mean we see lots of new hyperlocal papers springing up to take over areas already covered by established local publications?
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look