The Guildford-based Croydon Sadvertiser is about to dump its own dedicated website.
In the latest move in the slow, painful and largely self-inflicted demise of the borough’s own local newspaper, it is being reported that the newspaper’s publishers are to merge the Sadvertiser’s website with Get West London to create something called Mylondon.news, “moving into north, east and south London territory for the first time”.
In true Croydon style, the website launch has been delayed at least twice.
According to the trade website Press Gazette, the Croydon Sadvertiser’s erstwhile editor, Andy Worden, will edit the new, pan-London site from the Daily Mirror publishers’ offices in Canary Wharf, with a staff of just eight.
Back in 2010, he was in charge of the Sadvertiser when it ran a terrific front-page story that exposed a “sinister” brothel, somehow overlooking that his paper had been advertising the very same brothel for the previous year and then carried on taking a pimp’s cash to promote the house of ill-repute in its classified section for almost a month after the exposé.
Today, the Press Gazette reports that the new website with Worden in charge “aims to rival the Evening Standard online, but reporters have raised concerns with editors about how they can do so with a fraction of the resources”.
There are worries about photography coverage, with strong suspicions that Canary Wharf staff will rely increasingly on reader-contributed images, largely because they will be cheap.
“Reporters also raised concerns over the future quality of the Croydon Advertiser newspaper and print titles in west London – the Uxbridge Gazette, Ealing Gazette, and Chronicle & Informer in Hounslow,” the Press Gazette reports states.
“They worried about losing their loyal west London and Croydon audiences if not enough content is produced in print as reporters are pushed to cover a wider geographical area.”
Given the Sadvertiser’s piss-poor circulation figures, it may only be a matter of time before the publishers pull the plug and it goes online-only.
There are some clues as to how the new website will operate from other recent online publishing developments.
The Sadvertiser’s Crystal Palace football online coverage was subsumed into the Mirror group’s football.london website, amassing the clicks as Eagles supporters navigate through the London-wide site to find news of their team which used to be found in one place on their local site.
It is more than five years since the Sadvertiser abandoned its home town to save a few bob on office rent. Most recently, it has been based in shared publishing offices in Guildford, Surrey, more than 20 miles away, while borrowing the use of a desk from a local PR firm in Croydon town centre for a visiting reporter.
In 2010, the Sadvertiser was distributing 70,000 copies of its weekly paper around the borough, with many freebies being delivered in Purley, Sanderstead and Coulsdon.
Its most recent audited newspaper circulation figures show it sells an average of just 6,203 copies each week.
In the past year, the Sadvertiser, and the Croydon Guardian, have benefited from the BBC paying the £23,000 salary of a “local democracy reporter” for them, supposedly to cover Town Hall meetings, planning committees and news from Fisher’s Folly. And regularly following up on Inside Croydon’s exclusive stories.
Since its takeover of Express Newspapers earlier this year, the Sadvertiser’s owners, the Mirror Group, has re-branded itself as Retch.
Ceri Gould, the editor-in-chief of Retch in the south east, told Press Gazette: “Based on an ‘I love London’ approach to living, working, commuting to, playing in the capital, Mylondon.news is London for Londoners.”
We are loathe to reproduce all of the Press Gazette’s report, but this next paragraph might amuse our loyal reader:
“Gould added that research undertaken by the company showed there is an appetite, particularly among 25 to 34-year-olds, for a ‘trusted, local London news brand with personality’ where readers can expect more than just ‘the bare bones of what’s happening now’.”
So basically, everything that the Sadvertiser is not.
The news of the website merger, when posted on the Sadvertiser’s Facebook page, did not go down well.
“It’s a terrible decision and one I fear you will regret, especially as Croydon is experiencing such a resurgence in the public eye,” one reader said.
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