23.9.06

RIP: North West Enquirer


How sad. My old friends Nick Jaspan and veteran journalist Bob Waterhouse have announced that the North-West Enquirer has closed. They launched the weekly title just over five months ago at a time when regional journalism seemed to be going down the toilet - with Metro and MEN Lite being given away for free.

When Nick told me about his plans I did wonder if he might be over-reaching himself. He's one of the best publishers I know, with boundless engery and commitment to any project he gets involved in. Of course, once the mainstream Press heard about his and Bob's plans they immediately slagged it off - I know in the Press it's dog eat dog but any journalist who has a belief in what they are doing should have wished it well. But one publication actually squatted on the Enquirer's domain while rivals dropped their advertising rates.

But the Enquirer was offering decent salaries to good journalists and the product was very good indeed offering a genuine regional title alongside the parochialism of the likes of the MEN, Daily Post, Liverpool Echo etc. By the way I am not knocking parochialism - in my view we could do with a lot more of it in the regional press instead of the regurgitation of PA and agency copy.

The Enquirer was a bold move by two very bold news men. I'm sad it's gone and I'm very sorry for both Bob and Nick.

Here's Bob's comments on the website which is still running:

Very sadly, after just 21 issues, we have been forced to suspend publication of The Enquirer because the funding package we were negotiating with regional venture capital funds fell apart at the last moment. The company is now in administration. There may yet be a rescue bid. Let’s just hope something transpires.

As editor, I’d like to thank readers for your very generous response to our website. We know that The Enquirer is well read around the world, and the number of hits was growing fast week by week. Thank you again.

Robert Waterhouse


Let's hope they can turn it around. Whatever happens I am sure Nick will bounce back. However, this does pose a question about whether we ever see a new paper newspaper again. I doubt it - Web2.0 changes everything and is changing everything with daily regional newspaper sales dropping week on week.

The ones that are holding out are the weeklies that remain at the heart of the community - in my part of the world the likes of the Barnsley Chronicle, Craven Herald, Darlington & Stockton Times and Harrogate Advertiser are actually seeing some gains in circulation. As someone who grew up in the world of hot metal and stone subs I find this encouraging.

From the perspective of PR, however, it does mean we can no longer survive in the printed world alone. It's time people like Colin Farrington woke up and smelt the coffee - see Simon Says for further elucidation.

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