Press Gazette to Close

After 43 years, the trade magazine of the newspaper industry is to close down – both its hard copy and, it is understood, its online news service.

The Press Gazette – which was saved from adminstration three years ago – is to stop printing this month. And, according to a report quoting a senior manager, it will, as of this weekend, no longer be reporting news on its website.

It’s believed five editorial staff will be affected, following an announcement made yesterday by owners, the Wilmington Grooup plc, who said: “We are sorry to announce the closure of Press Gazette magazine……we have invested significant sums each year to try to develop the magazine and to bring it to profitability. Unfortunately, Press Gazette, along with much of the profession, has suffered from a declining market during these years and its losses have increased.

“We have therefore been forced to conclude that the market required to sustain a commercially viable Press Gazette magazine no longer exists. The last hard copy edition of Press Gazette will therefore be the May edition which will be published in April.”

Last year, the magazine went from weekly to monthly and became features-led.

Continued the statement: “During Wilmington’s stewardship there have been several positive developments. One has been the rapidly increasing traffic to the online edition of Press Gazette. Whilst we will no longer be able to offer the magazine’s content online, we aim to develop this site as a resource for the UK journalism community, and we plan to roll out additional functionality in the coming months.

“Another success has been the British Press Awards which have gone from strength to strength over the last three years. We remain fully committed to running the British Press Awards and similar events, through which the whole industry can continue to celebrate the quality of UK journalism.”

And on the website, holdthefrontpage, Les Kelly, the managing director of Wilmington’s media and entertainment division, is quoted, saying: “There will not be news coverage but we will develop the [Press Gazette] site to offer other services such as training and freelance referrals. There will be no journalism on the site.”

Comment: I remember its launch. I was on the Sketch when its brilliant editor, Colin Valdar, who had been features editor of the Express at the age of 24, was dumped. He went off to Paris to see his old mates from the Continental Daily Mail, and started the Gazette on his return – but not before he persuaded me to join the Express, rather than the Mirror. First editor was Ken Brown, ex-Sketch night ed. Ken had once insisted on my coming in on Hogmanay. I arrived with a bottle and started pouring drams for the subs. “You’ve made your point,” he said. “Now bugger off.”

Bill Sinclair

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