Is Archant Showing Papers How To Downsize And Reboot The Right Way?

Yesterday, we quoted analyst Benedict Evans as saying “deflation is now the agenda” for news publishers. As if the newspaper closures and cutbacks of the last year hadn’t already made it clear, now here’s another example…

Archant’s Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire division is shutting two of its local weekly free papers, the Harlow Herald and East Herts Herald, to replace them with a new-launch free “newszine” called HarlowScene.

It’s a repeat of Archant’s creation of CambridgeFirst in May, and the strategy looks good – a colourful, fresh-looking news magazine that’s more relaxed than conventional local rags, publishes to web first and which has reporters out on patch rather than in costly offices.

There aren’t even any redundancies, apparently.

HoldTheFrontPage: “It will be available to readers in eight different ways, including door-to-door delivery, paid-for sales, free pick-up, website, mobile site and from 41 parish council outlets in rural areas.”

Archant’s regional MD Stuart McCreery tells HTFP: “This project was born out of necessity. The economic and multi-media climate in which we operate was challenging us and we needed to find a new way to satisfy our customers and readers in a more engaging and attractive manner.

“The Scene series will serve a wide audience in an innovative way.”

Has Archant found the right template for downsizing and readjusting to new times?