03 August 2006

North West Enquirer facing difficult times

Browsing the Connect Media North West site this morning, I came across this news. The Press Gazette has reported that the North West Enquirer has made some job cuts at senior level.

I'm quite a fan of the NWE, as I've blogged before. It covers the whole region from the Scottish border to Derbyshire and provides a uniquely regional angle on the issues in our area. The bigger picture, so to speak. And of course, it's not London-centric - the mainstream media often forget that life exists north of Watford, or they choose to ignore it.

However, the two main problems are too many hacks and not enough sales staff, and poor distribution. As the Press Gazette noted, 15 journalists for a weekly paper is quite top heavy - by comparison, there are only 7 sales staff. It's not difficult to notice the lack of advertising on the NWE's pages. I'm no fan of advertising but papers need the income from ads in order to survive. The NWE desperately needs more ad sales to boost revenue and secure its future. In fairness, the paper launched at the start of the summer, which can be a slow time for ad sales. Not to mention potential readers disappearing on holiday...

The other chief difficulty is finding somewhere that sells it. The convenience store across the road from Wordsmith HQ stocks it, but many newsagents in Chester don't. Visitors to my house see it lying around and ask, "what's that? I've never seen it before" or "I've never heard of it". The NWE needs to make a concerted effort to improve distribution or it won't gain readers. And without readers, it won't get advertisers.

I sincerely hope that this bad patch will pass for the NWE and that it will go forward to take its rightful place as the essential read for those of us that live in the north-west.

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