Tindle Newspapers has announced the launch of the London Weekly News and the simultaneous ‘resuscitation’ of three old titles.
They are the Westminster and Pimlico News (first established l857), theKensington News (1869) and the Chelsea News (l857).
All the resuscitated titles appear inside the London Weekly News, which will cover the centre of the capital and which will in part be aimed at the five million tourists who come to London each year. These old titles will also appear in their own boroughs as revived editions of the old established local papers for those areas.
Joint managing directors of a newly formed subsidiary company of the Tindle Newspapers Group – Capital News Media – are Karen Sheppard and Philip Evans.
“The staff have shown tremendous enthusiasm for this project. We don’t think it has ever been done before and it certainly took a great deal of effort,” said Mr Evans, who is MD and editor of a group of Tindle weeklies in the West Country and has experience of managing titles in London.
“The original idea and planning came from the chairman, Ray Tindle,” continued Mr Evans.
“He and vice chairman Wendy Craig put the proposition to Karen and myself. We have brought it to life.
“We know the risk perfectly well but I am excited about it as it’s such a positive move. Trying to solve our problem by increasing local revenue is much better than solving it by more cuts. Central London, Kensington, Westminster and Chelsea are excellent areas for both big news and big shops and I can assure you it has strong and active communities.”
Karen Sheppard, who recently took over the South London Press when Peter Edwards retired, added: “It’s been a most interesting experience for all of us involved.
“Publishing a new newspaper is always exciting but this particular one, right in the heart of London, had unique difficulties for us at first. It was hugely rewarding in satisfaction, however, as we conquered the problems one by one.
“The staff involved threw themselves into it and they have loved the challenge. Planning the approach to organising an entirely new paper plus resuscitating three old ones hasn’t been easy but we have done it.
“If it works, it could help all our other papers in London. Using staff this way with a chance of replacing lost revenue must be worth trying – and it’s exciting, too. I’ve spent many years in local newspapers but this has been the biggest challenge of my career. The staff are right behind us.”
Sir Ray commented: “Philip and Karen and the staff have done a tremendous job. They have exceeded my expectations and Wendy and I are well pleased with what they have produced. The papers are magnificent, particularly bearing in mind we only gave them four weeks from our first mention to them of the project.”
Sir Ray added: “These new papers can now be added to the 19 new local weeklies we have launched since the recession started. We have also bought about 20 other local titles in those same six years. The new ones bring the total added since six years ago to about 43. The object was to try to replace the lost national advertisement revenue with new local revenue. It has certainly worked in most cases.
“This London launch, of course, could only be by way of an experiment. Whatever the outcome, however, everyone can see that the staff of TNL are continuing the six-year battle against recession by taking this further positive step.”
“Weeklies, in my opinion,” said Sir Ray, “have a great future publishing local news in depth.”
Wendy Craig added that the last few weeks had been the busiest and most exciting of her 30 years with TNL.
She said “For the last six years the whole staff has known what we are trying to do to beat the recession and they have given their full support. We all hope this latest venture will succeed just as the earlier ones have done.”
In a joint statement Karen and Philip, referring to their staff in London and the West Country and to the staff throughout the Tindle Group, said: “This is a further example of our colleagues upholding the motto on our coat-of-arms – Noli Cedere – Never Surrender! One of the prime aims of this major launch, as it was with the earlier ones, is to support and help our other 28 local papers in London and others elsewhere, and thus jobs, by endeavouring to replace the national revenue lost in the recession.”