In case you missed it, a new daily newspaper was born this week. Titled “24”, the 40 page tabloid is retailing at 40p a copy and circulates in the North West of England, from the Scottish Borders down to Preston. The idea is to produce a paper that looks at news and sport from a northern perspective rather than the London centric outlook of the national press.
24 is being published in Carlisle by the CN Group, who have styled the new paper as “The North’s National”. Surprisingly, 24 will have an editorial staff of just six. It seems that the plan is that the bulk of the paper’s stories, as much as 95 per cent according to some reports, will be provided by the Press Association. That does make me worry if the new paper will have enough locally generated content to give it a truly “Northern” feel.
It is debatable whether or not the market in the North can support a locally produced daily newspaper. Liverpool’s Daily Post ceased publication in 2013 while other publications such as the Yorkshire Post and the Newcastle Journal have seen dramatic drops in circulation in recent years.
One thing which I believe could make a big difference would be if 24 is able to quickly develop a number of thought provoking local columnists. Columnists writing provocative copy about issues which matter to local people used to be the lifeblood of many local papers.
I haven’t yet seen a copy of 24 because, rather oddly, it isn’t available in the North West’s two main population centres of Liverpool and Manchester. Apparently the distribution area was deliberately chosen in order to avoid those markets already covered by Metro.
Launching a new daily paper in the present climate is a brave move by the CN Group, especially after the failure of Trinity Mirror’s New Day earlier this year. Those of us who still care about newspapers, especially outside of London, will watch the progress of 24 with great interest.