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