Sunday, 7 October 2012

Has the Hackney Gazette been gutted?

Archant, the private company which owns the Hackney Gazette, has said the paper's editorial team will be merging with the Islington Gazette before a redesign for the paper  (full statement below).

A press officer at Archant told Blood and Property that the Hackney Gazette title would remain but could not comment on whether it was true that the paper would only have one dedicated member of staff or that it's longstanding news editor was being moved to the East London Advertiser.

The changes follow those made in November 2010 when the Hackney Gazette and the East London Advertiser were moved out of their offices on Cambridge Heath Road in Bethnal Green to Ilford.

Archant claims the changes will help deliver 'higher paginations and increased news content providing better newspapers' but the company's financial statements suggest a managed decline for its London titles.

It is believed that the circulation figures and advertising revenues of titles like the Hackney Gazette have plummeted - however Archant no longer provides circulation figures (Guardian and ABC figures) for its London titles.

In its 2012 interim report the company implied that it would be looking to build on success rather than attempt to rescue failing titles:  'We are firm in the view that it is right to continue to increase expenditure in areas where we believe we can generate growth.'

London didn't appear to be one of those areas. The report said: 'Total newspaper and printing turnover, at £43.2m fell by 1.5%. The decline in revenues resulted principally from reductions in print advertising revenues, down 1.1% on a like for like basis.... Circulation volume performance was good, with growth in our titles outside London.'

In Archant's 2011 annual report the company only mentioned the Gazette to say that it had recognised the National Union of Journalists' members at the paper.

The Archant announcement in full:

Archant London has announced a number of changes in its London portfolio, extending its flagship Ham & High title, combining editorial resources across the Gazette titles in Islington and Hackney and moving the North London Journal series from print into a digital-only product.

 The Ham & High series is to be relaunching in mid-October with a new design, additional pagination, a new paid-for edition 'The Broadway' covering Muswell Hill and Crouch End and with expanded free distribution of 3,000 copies via letterbox distribution in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Archant London MD, Will Hattam, said: 'London is an ever-changing city, with its series of "villages" constantly redefining themselves. Our publishing needs to evolve to reflect the needs of each area in which we publish, which means that we need constantly to review our circulation areas, formats and distribution.'

 In further changes, the Journal series in Hornsey & Muswell Hill and Tottenham & Wood Green will cease publication in print and will move to a digital-only format.

The editorial teams on the Islington Gazette and Hackney Gazette will be merging, and the titles redesigned with higher paginations and increased news content providing better newspapers to serve the needs of advertisers and readers. Hattam added: 'Our newspapers play a pivotal role in the community life of North London by providing a vibrant, effective and sustainable media. We are committed to continue to play this key role in producing both print and digital formats.'

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