A letter to readers of The Argus from its Editor Michael Beard
To our loyal and valued readers,
I am writing to advise you of a number of significant and exciting changes we are making to The Argus from today.
These are being introduced across the news, sport, features and promotions sections of the paper as a result of the reader panels we held recently and a survey carried in-paper.
The findings provided us with conclusive evidence of what you want. It also provided us with confirmation of the passion and strength of feeling so many of you have for the newspaper and the role that it plays in your community.
Much of what we are planning is based on you being part of The Argus.
Not only is it “your paper” but it is also your news, sport and entertainment. In fact, every single platform is aimed at you.
Much has been written and spoken about the decline of local newspapers in terms of circulation. One thing that really struck me and the staff who attended the reader panels was the loyalty people felt for the paper and also how important it was to their lives.
It is no exaggeration to say that without The Argus many of our readers admitted they would be left in the dark about a number of issues that affect their every-day life. For them the paper is not just a long-standing and trusted friend, it is also their voice, not afraid to speak for them and to fight for what is right and to correct what is wrong.
As the independent researcher who conducted the panels summed up: “Readers hold The Argus in very high regard.”
He also said: “Readers and subscribers continually voiced a view that The Argus was a very important representative of their town and the people within it.”
When asked to come up with a slogan for the paper, some of the ideas were: “It’s our voice”, “the paper that is prepared to go where others don’t” and “The voice of Sussex”.
The feedback also provided us with clear messages about the type of content you wanted us to either expand or introduce. You were equally clear in your recognition that the paper needed to evolve.
We have responded to your messages by making changes to each day’s paper.
The headlines of these are:
On Monday you will see a new 12-page sports supplement which we hope will match the ever-increasing profile and success of Brighton and Hove Albion. It will also include more local, grass root sport.
This day will also see more nostalgia and a page dedicated to charities
On Tuesday Business will increase in pagination and see the introduction of new features celebrating the success of local firms and profiling some of our larger and more interesting and innovative companies.
A new feature, In Your Street, will take an in-depth look at a local community including their residents, personalities and facilities as well as the history and amenities.
Tuesday will be one of three days when we carry two Letters Pages instead of the current one.
A new 8-page Youth in Action supplement will be carried on Wednesdays. This will feature not only success in sport but also education. Initial feedback about this new platform has been extremely encouraging.
Thursday will see an extra Letters Page and a Thursday Soapbox as we strive to make this the day for your views and to increase your involvement in the paper.
The Guide, already hugely popular, will increase in pagination every Friday. The additional coverage will include new sections looking at the best of Sussex food and drink, the hottest tickets in town, a new feature about events for families as well as a full film round-up.
Every Friday, a senior figure from the county will answer questions that have been posed by you the readers. Albion’s new Chief Executive Paul Barber will be the first to be featured this week.
Saturday will see a four-page puzzle pull-out as well as an in-depth interview conducted by one of our reporters with a prominent figure in the week’s news.
These are the main features we have planned. There will be others throughout the week. As the paper evolves I would encourage you to let me know your thoughts and ideas of how we can improve even more.
Through the week we expect overall pagination to increase by more than 50 pages. It is obvious that this comes at a cost. As a result, the cover price is increasing to 65p Monday to Friday and to 85p on Saturdays.
Many of you, however, will be able to take advantage of a range of offers which could see you paying as little as £2.85 for the entire week’s newspapers. These include a new and more flexible way to buy in advance with pre-paid vouchers
Details of these offers can be seen on our Subscribe Page.
Our reader panels and survey gave us a very firm sense of what you wanted. With some advertising sectors suffering in the recession, however, if we are to maintain our standards for high quality and comprehensive coverage then we must charge a fair price.
Our weekday cover price will be just a little bit more than a first class stamp. I think that puts it in to perspective.
For more than 130 years The Argus has been honoured to be the only daily newspaper to reach in to the very heart of Sussex.
We firmly believe that the changes we are making will enable us to continue that work and to be your paper for many many years to come.