Monday, 20 June 2016

Good luck 24 - a paper that deserves to succeed

Good luck to Cumbria Newspapers for the launch of 24 - the North’s National Newspaper - today. My colleague Mike Brough and I were privileged to design the paper and create the 40-page dummy. It is a bold move by CN’s chief executive Miller Hogg and group editor David Helliwell. The concept is a 40-page, 40p national paper that covers the CN circulation area. It uses mainly Press Association content, the production is pretty slick, the group has its own printing capacity, so the costs are largely covered. The paper has the usual mix of news, lifestyle, gossip, celebrity and sport - all with a northern perspective - wrapped up in an accessible and busy layout. It is also a proper morning newspaper, with deadlines that mean it includes the latest sport and news.  
What is disappointing, although predictable, has been the doomsayers who took to the comments on Hold The Front Page and the Press Gazette. The opinion by most is it hasn’t a 'cat in hell’s chance'. One described it as 'the most ridiculous proposition I’ve ever seen in newspapers'. Wait a minute. All those journalists who have moaned about groups closing down non-profitable newspapers are now whingeing when a someone gives it a go. Of course it will be a challenge. But those who haven’t seen the business plan, what revenue is needed, what sales are required, what the costs are or how 24 dovetails with CN’s other titles … are still certain it will fail.

Today's front page
The best argument against it seems to be that, as Trinity Mirror’s NewDay closed after nine weeks and The Independent could no longer sustain a print edition, then nobody should ever launch a newspaper. Really? Are they saying that those regional groups seeing their traditional newspapers heading towards oblivion and struggling to make money out of digital, should just do nothing? Is inertia and avoiding risk at all costs the only way forward? Should they just get out of publishing altogether and invest their money in property or an offshore account?
CN has now added to its portfolio - it owns three daily papers, whereas last week it owned two. It is using its existing resources cleverly and with innovation. What strikes me about the 24 journalists is their confidence, commitment and enthusiasm. Those are commodities sometimes hard to find in newsapers these days. Of course it won’t be easy and editor Mike Haworth knows he has a tough job. But the industry and those shouting from the sidelines should get behind CN’s venture - and will it to succeed. Who knows ... it may even become a model for others.


  1. Come off it, Pete. It is fundamentally ridiculous to brand it the "new national newspaper for the north". You can't even buy it in most of the north.

  2. Interesting that a lot of people have latched on to the name and slogan. Shouldn't detract from the initiative. The Southern Daily Echo doesn't cover all of the South; The Eastern Daily Press, The Northern Echo (my old paper) is branded as the Great Daily of The North but doesn't venture over the Pennines. The Western Mail only covers Wales ... you get my drift.