New title set to have separate South Manchester, Salford and Tameside editions
From the start of April, the Tameside Advertiser will be no more, a few weeks short of its 36th birthday. In its place will be Britain’s biggest free newspaper, second only to the Metro. The new title will be the UK’s biggest weekly free sheet.
Entitled the Manchester Weekly News, the new title by MEN Media will absorb six free newspapers, four of which formerly part of the Advertiser Group of Newspapers. The MWN will replace the Oldham, Tameside, Trafford and Salford Advertiser titles, the Wilmslow Express, and the Stockport Times.
There will be three editions: South Manchester, Salford and Tameside. The South Manchester edition will take in the Stockport and Wilmslow titles, with the Salford edition covering parts of Manchester. The Tameside edition will cover Oldham as well as Tameside, and possibly Glossop.
Further to localised content in each of its three editions, there will also be coverage on Manchester City and Manchester United as well as Stockport County, Salford City and Stalybridge Celtic. The events pages will also cover events in Central Manchester as well as localities covered in each of the three editions.
As well as rationalisation of its free titles, there will be greater integration with the Manchester Evening News and its multimedia presence. In other words, akin to a Manchester Metro News on steroids.
In Tameside, this leaves the Tameside Reporter and the Stalybridge Gazette as its truly local titles. Oldham has Hirst, Kidd and Rennie’s Oldham Evening Chronicle and its free companion, the Chronicle Weekend.
The forthcoming changes will not affect the Middleton Guardian, Rochdale Observer and the Stockport Express paid-for titles.
The Tameside Advertiser
Launched in May 1979 (05 May 1979 edition), the Tameside Advertiser was the second title from the Advertiser Group of Newspapers. Its first edition would later become the Stockport Times, with the Stockport Express a sister title.
It has always been a tabloid newspaper; the Reporter Group titles would adopt the compact format almost seven years later in March 1986. Before 1984, the Tameside Advertiser only covered a narrow area: Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, Hyde and Dukinfield. After that, the whole of the borough would be covered, eating into the Reporter Group’s circulation figures.
The success of its Stockport and Tameside titles would spawn an Oldham edition. Costs were kept down with printing centralised in one location. There was satellite offices in Ashton (Booth Street) and Oldham (Union Street).
In the late 1980s, the Tameside Advertiser expanded in size with the launch of a pull-out title, the Tameside Echo. Like the Whizzer and Chips comic, you could split the ‘papers. Whereas the Advertiser was only distributed to households, the Tameside Echo had another outlet: local shops, supermarkets and Post Offices.
By 2001, the Advertiser Group of Newspapers titles were sold to MEN Media, then part of the Guardian Media Group. As well as typographical changes, its freesheets were available for sale at newsagents. The biggest change came in 2010, when MEN Media was sold to Trinity Mirror. All titles, including the flagship one that used to cross-subsidise The Manchester Guardian, would be controlled from the Daily Mirror‘s Hollinwood plant. Local offices in Ashton and Oldham were closed.
Today’s Tameside Advertiser is unrecognisable from the one printed in 1979. There is greater reliance on shared features and stories previously seen in the Manchester Evening News. The jobs pages have very few positions in the Tameside area, though this could be symptomatic of the borough’s labour market as well as centralisation.
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East of the M60 Comment:
Will the Manchester Weekly News succeed? From a local journalistic point of view, I doubt it. Given that print sales have fallen over the last twenty years, the internet has become the main source of news instead of a peripheral one. Hence Trinity Mirror’s strategy favouring smartphones and digital tablets over newsagents.
There is still something reassuring about picking up a newspaper compared with a tablet. Have you tried eating your chips off an iPad? Or swatted a fly with a smartphone? Very expensive I would say. Future generations will be asking their grandparents what a paperboy was!
Whether online or on the news stand, there is clear demand for local journalism and opinion. Though traditional local newspapers seem to be going the way of Kodak Disc Film, the local focus has become more local. Either online or via traditional media, but on a smaller scale. Blogs like this one for instance, hyper-local titles like the Stalybridge Gazette and the Staly Mag.
Though good in the short to medium term, we still need professional journalists to hold local institutions to account. To create sports reports, write exciting features, and of course, to create a diverse local viewpoint representative of its readership.
S.V., 26 February 2015.