Wales

Third new local newspaper launched in Wales

The Pembrokeshire Herald
Image caption The Pembrokeshire Herald launched with a print run of 20,000

In recent years there have been cuts to newspapers serving Wales. Dozens of staff have been laid off and some titles have closed prompting concern that local issues were not being reported on. But, as Sarah Moore reports, in a move bucking the trend, three local newspapers have recently been launched.

A new county newspaper has been launched in west Wales.

The Pembrokeshire Herald has been started by a businessman from Milford Haven and will be a weekly paper costing 50p.

Pembrokeshire is already served by another weekly paper, the Western Telegraph, which was founded in 1854, and which is now owned by Newsquest.

The editor of The Pembrokeshire Herald, Bruce Sinclair, said they saw a gap in the market.

"Launching a brand new independent newspaper title could be seen as a brave venture in this uncertain economic climate, but we at the Herald see a growing need for a county-wide voice for the people of Pembrokeshire," he said.

The Herald will have an initial print run of 20,000, and is being launched by Mega Group in Milford Haven, a company which is owned by Tom Sinclair.

He already runs an online radio station and publishes a free magazine called Pembrokeshire's Best.

"We worked it out that we'd be able to break even, even if no copies of the paper sold at all, based on the advertising revenues that we're receiving. If someone buys a copy, that's 50 pence for us," he said.

"We're hoping we'll sell lots of copies, but if it's a slow start, that's fine.

"We're going to be an independent voice. We're not going to be relying on revenue from local authorities or any government sources. It's a return to good old fashioned journalism."

The Pembrokeshire Herald is not the only independently-owned newspaper launched recently in Wales.

The Caerphilly Observer and the Port Talbot Magnet, both originally started online, have made a transition into print.

Market gap

The Caerphilly Observer started online in 2009, but since 30 May this year it has also been published as a weekly newspaper.

It is being written and published by one man, journalist Richard Gurner, who says he saw a gap in the market for a newspaper which serves the entire Caerphilly borough county.

He secured European funding to help him publish the first four editions, but after that he will be relying on advertising revenue.

"I wouldn't do it if I didn't think I could sustain it," he said.

"From a standing start the online paper gained a monthly average audience of 20,000 unique visitors a month, and we're still reaching out to new people."

The current print run of the paper is 10,000 copies. Mr Gurner said he wanted to reach readers who are digitally excluded.

"At the moment, it's just me and an advertising sales lady," he said.

"Students from the University of South Wales have also been helping me, but my dream is to increase revenue, get a town centre office, and employ some staff."

The Port Talbot Magnet was started as an online community newspaper following the closure of the town's local paper, The Port Talbot Guardian, in 2009.

In April this year the team behind the Magnet website announced their plan to start publishing a free monthly newspaper over the summer.

The launch of the new publications come while many newspapers in Wales continue to suffer from staffing and financial cuts and falling circulation figures.

Choice

Genuine concerns have been expressed in recent years regarding the future of the newspaper industry in Wales.

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Media captionThe owners of The Pembrokeshire Herald said they saw a gap in the market

Robert Lloyd, a former editor of both the Llanelli Star and the Carmarthen Journal, now owns his own media consultancy. He said he remains optimistic about the industry.

"These days it's all dominated by the big boys, the big corporations," he said.

"There's Local World, the former Northcliffe enterprise, Trinity Mirror, Newsquest, Ray Tindle. He's a small newspaper publisher but he's a national newspaper publisher.

"The days of old family, local, independently-owned newspapers have left us, and I think this ownership of newspapers by people who actually live and operate outside of Wales is not necessarily a good thing.

"It'll be interesting to see what happens now with The Pembrokeshire Herald.

"It's quite a crowded market place in Pembrokeshire, but good luck to them and I think it will give people more choice.

"There are people out there now who'll be looking at what happens in Pembrokeshire, looking at what happens in Caerphilly, to see, hang on a minute, there may be life in newspapers again," he added.

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