10 September 2012…..Newspapers worldwide are losing readership and struggling to survive. Complacent citizenry, 20% of whom we know are illiterate, either prefer a ‘never mind the quality, feel the width’ approach to keeping informed by surfing the internet, getting it from television or they just fell away and got out of the habit of giving time to sitting down with a newspaper – for whatever reason (including cost). Too much hassle.
TV and the internet have taken away most of the business from the printed newspaper trade, however, and countering this has proved very hard.
Local newspapers should be in a position to provide what TV and internet cannot, but even they have suffered the slow leak of readership that threatens to kill them off completely. The fact is, the public have not felt that their local paper is an absolute must-read, that it contained anything they needed to ensure they read it. People move around, don’t invest their lives in where they live, etc. Brighton and Hove is full of incomers and temporary residents (students) and what the Council and fellow residents do or don’t do is not massively interesting to them.
What to do? Well earlier this summer The Argus invited readers to a consultation event at a seafront hotel to find out what they wanted in the Argus. A clear picture apparently emerged and today a revamped Argus hit the stands with a steeply increased cover price to match. It has gone up from 45p to 65p and the weekend edition goes from 60p to 80p. They have increased the number of pages too.
Three days a week there will be two pages of letters and twice a week, there will be a page of Soapbox articles of 400 words each. This makes the citizen journalist part of the team, albeit unpaid. We need this and I hope everyone reading this will take the opportunity we are given to help ensure this local paper survives.
Everyone loves the letters page! For anyone running a campaign of any kind, it is a serious weapon of choice for reaching people and making a difference.
The recently introduced Soapbox page has produced some interesting, less predictable and quirky contributions. And comment that would not otherwise have made it into the paper as news or is too lengthy for the letters page can make its useful contribution here – twice a week now! Got a bee in your bonnet about an issue of any kind that is not being covered by the Argus? Are you running any kind of a campaign? Use the soapbox page to make your case, over and above getting those letters in.
The Editor has put a message giving further details about content changes for the revamp on the Argus website which you can read here: It details most of the changes. 12 page sports supplement today, for instance!