Monday, 6 April 2009
The news last week that the Walkabout bar (former Queens Hotel) in Newport was closing and had been bought by JD Wetherspoons finally made front page news in the South Wales Argus on Saturday morning. Hardly breaking news, this story first surfaced in the Morning Advertiser on Thursday, was covered by Fido the same day and appeared here, after researching a photo, on Friday. So why does the biggest selling local newspaper in and around Newport consider a 3-day old story to be front page news?
The reason is that the South Wales Argus is no longer printed in Newport but in Worcester and is now a morning paper, with the editions going to bed at 4pm the previous day. A few years ago a City-centre fire or car accident that happened before 9am could be in the later editions of the newspaper the same day. Today it appears in the edition the next day. Hardly newsworthy when we live in a world with 24 hours of rolling news on TV, radio and the web. Also the MSM are trying to compete with the online world and are failing abysmally, running newspapers with out of date news is not going to encourage more people to buy them.
The last time Newport was without a locally printed Newspaper was 200 or so years ago. So well-done to Newsquest (Gannet), the owners of the South Wales Argus for closing the printing department and taking a backwards step in getting the news to it's readers. Which should be the backbone of every newspaper, not flogging us holidays or receiving state funding by printing adverts from the local libelist Member of Parliament, paid for by us, the taxpayer.
It does raise the question of how long will the South Wales Argus survive as a local daily newspaper? If the parent company were unwilling to invest in new printing facilities then how big is their commitment in the long-term to the local paper? Even the typesetting is no longer carried out in Maesglas, having been outsourced to India! After all it is the Sub-continent and the spelling mistakes have dropped off since the move!
Now this is not an anti-Argus post, I still buy and read the local rag and will continue to do so as long as Mike Buckingham's Words of Wisdom still grace its pages every Wednesday.