At the Wolverhampton Express and Star this week with my old colleague, Adrian Faber. His paper remains the biggest selling regional title in the country - a position it has held for years. Why should this be? Well, I don't think it's rocket science:
i) It is family run, locally owned by the Grahams who believe in journalism, sound business practices and realistic targets.
ii) It has resisted the trend to turn evening newspapers into mornings (a misguided mantra by van drivers in suits purporting to be circulation managers). If something happens in the morning it will be in the paper, and the readers know that. The morning newspaper market is a crowded place where readers have ten papers to choose from, the evening market is an exclusive zone. Where would you rather be?iii) It still has proper local editions, eight of them, which run from a first deadline of 11am to 2.30pm. The paper changes the front and a substantial number of news and sports pages each issue.
iv) It concentrates on good content - loads of it - and not filler material.
v) It has a feisty former news-editor, who doesn't suffer fools or fads, in charge.
There is a lot more besides. The paper has had it tough, just like everyone else, but there is a robust culture, a self-belief and it feels like a proper newsroom. Perhaps the managers at some other regional groups, should take a closer look.