Advertiser’s circulation falls below 5,000 per week for first time

Our local meeja correspondent, RAY GREENSLIDE, sifts through some figures which suggest the demise of a once proud Croydon institution

Tomorrow’s chip paper?

The Croydon Sadvertiser, under the editorship of Andy Worden, sold a miserable 3,533 copies in one sorry week last year.

A 21 per cent fall in sales in the last 12 months could mean that the once proud Croydon institution may soon cease to exist in newsprint form. Its owners, Retch, today refused to comment on the future prospects for the 150-year-old title.

The official figures were published yesterday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, with the Advertiser’s average sales for 2018 at a mere 4,918.

That’s down from 6,203 in 2017.

Retch – the amalgam of what used to be known as Trinity Mirror and the Express groups – have pretty much erased the Croydon title from the interweb: since December, the Advertiser brand no longer appears on a website, after they moved Worden and eight hacks to Canary Wharf to cobble together the MyLondon website.

The Sadvertiser’s Twitter account has evaporated

Now, their online Croydon news is amalgamated with all of south London (which they appear to think even includes Crawley). The MyLondon site has just seven Croydon stories from the past week online, and one of those is tagged as being about Mitcham.

When they launched MyLondon, Retch seriously expressed ambitions to rival the Evening Standard’s website, but as the Press Gazette reported at the time, “reporters have raised concerns with editors about how they can do so with a fraction of the resources”.

And this week, even the Croydon Advertiser’s Twitter account evaporated, as if the paper has never existed.

Retch’s national titles, which include the Daily and Sunday Mirror, the People, Daily Express, Daily Star and their Sunday sister titles, have this week issued staff with an email warning of yet more job cuts, as the management seeks to reduce costs by further disinvestment in the group’s core product, its journalism.

Things are just as grim at their local papers, such as the Croydon Advertiser.

Insiders at the Advertiser have been predicting the newspaper’s long, slow death for years, as the management increasingly looked towards reporters generating content online, rather than for the weekly print edition.

The latest figures appear to be a validation of those doom-laden predictions.

According to the ABC certificate, the Advertiser is selling fewer than 5,000 copies a week for the first time in its history. And this for a paper which was distributing more than 70,000 copies every week as recently as 2011.

The newspaper business in Britain is in a parlous state, largely because few publishers or managers seem to have realised that by giving away their product free of charge on the interweb, few people are going to bother paying money for it.

The Advertiser isn’t selling enough copies to even pay for its newsprint bills

And at £1.50 for a thin newspaper of just 56 pages these days, the Advertiser’s print edition represents very poor value for money. The feel-good front page story, which occupied most of page three as well, has been available on the MyLondon website for most of the week.

If anyone were of a mind to raise the matter with Trading Standards, the newspaper might be accused of stretching the truth beyond breaking point with a strapline of “local news all day every day”, alongside a web address which is no longer in use.

The paper’s presence in the borough where it was first written, edited and printed in 1869 has been steadily hollowed out by successive owners in the past few years, moving editorial staff first to Dorking, then to Guildford. Reporters’ copy is now sub-edited at a “hub” in Essex. And their Editor works at Canary Wharf.

Andy Worden might be familiar to Inside Croydon’s loyal reader.

Back in 2010, he was in charge of the Advertiser 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.

We asked Retch for an official comment on the latest disappointing sales figures. And we asked them when they think it will become unsustainable for the company to continue printing the Croydon Advertiser.

Their response hardly signals a bright and robust future for the newspaper.

“We won’t be commenting on this,” said a Retch non-spokeswoman.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to Advertiser’s circulation falls below 5,000 per week for first time

  1. The Advertiser might have survived, as have many local print publications, if it ever had a genuine opinion, an independent opinion about anything. For years it has nothing more than an anodyne vehicle for advertising and its forthcoming total demise was easily predictable. It will go into the dustbin of editorial history totally unmourned and unnoticed.

  2. Bernard Winchester says:

    Whatever its failings, I for one would be sorry to lose it after all this time.
    Mi impression is that its few youthful reporters are aiming the stories at an equally young readership who in reality gave up on print long ago. They could sell more if they were to orient coverage a little more towards a maturer age group to which buying and reading a printed paper still seems normal.
    That said, I do know people who have been put off buying by the rapid increase in price to £1.50, but presumably they felt that the rises were forced upon them by the falling sales.
    Their situation is certainly invidious.

  3. Lewis White says:

    Very sad if this landmark local paper has to fold.
    It would be instructive to find out whether the decline in sales of all newspapers, local and national, is really to do with a changing demographic, with the readership of older print-oriented readers declining for obvious reasons, and the absence of a replacement readership of younger, electronic media-using non print-reading people, or is it that we have ALL got out of the habit of reading? Is our attention span less? I think mine is.

    The price also seems to have gone up in recent years to quite a high level, and maybe we are all fixated on low low prices or free newspapers like the Metro and Standard, so are reluctant to buy , especially at that cover price?

    Maybe Arno has got it right, the absence of serious stuff , and lots of articles about trivia,
    My impression is, however, that the Advertiser has improved from a very low point a few years ago.

  4. Chris says:

    I, too, find this sad. The Advertiser was a small part of my childhood. And in my 20s I would keep finding out what was happening to my old school mates by reading the court pages which used to feature a lot of them. Sadly this scenario of a disappearing local press is being repeated across the country. At least we have blogs like this one to keep an eye on some things.

  5. Nick Davies says:

    The name is a bit of a giveaway. The cover price alone never would pay for a newsroom covering courts and council, burglers and shoplifters, wedding photos and WI meetings and pub darts leagues. Without all of that the paper isn’t worth buying. Once the estate agents went to Rightmove and Zoopla, the used cars went to What Car? and Auto-trader, the classifieds went to e-bay, there was no money to pay the reporters who produced all that stuff.

    With little meaningful content, news or advertising, papers like the Advertiser have no reason to exist, and I’m surprised it still does.

    We haven’t got out of the habit of reading, though we have got out of the habit of paying for newspapers. The Evening Gideon and the Metro do well enough, with the readers to attract advertisers. And I can think of small-town parish mags and university student papers with print runs well in excess of the Sadvertiser’s, though of course they rely on enthusiastic volunteers as well as ads to pay the print bill.

    Things have moved on, as has the way local news is reported. Which is why we have Inside Croydon.

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