UK regional newspapers 

There are about 1500 regional newspapers in the UK. Links are given to the sites of some parent companies, from which there are links to individual papers. This page concentrates on paid titles. (See Newspaper Society for a list of top publishers.)  Subjects covered are:

Top 20 regional dailies Owner

Circulation
(Jul-Dec 04)

1 Evening Standard (London) Associated Newspapers Ltd (Daily Mail and Gen. Trust)
361,340
2 Express and Star
(West Midlands)
West Midlands Express & Star Group
157,783
3 Manchester Evening News Manchester Evening News Ltd (Guardian Media Group)
141,737
4 Liverpool Echo Liverpool Daily Post and Echo (Trinity)
129,681
5 Birmingham Evening Mail Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd (Trinity)
96,143
6 Belfast Telegraph Belfast Telegraph Newspapers
94,540
7 Evening Times (Glasgow) Newsquest (Herald and Times) 
91,613
8 Evening Chronicle (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)  Newcastle Chronicle & Journal Ltd
89,074
9 Aberdeen Press & Journal Aberdeen Journals Ltd (Northcliffe Newspapers)
87,858
10 Leicester Mercury Leicester Mercury Group Ltd
84,419
11 Dundee Courier & Advertiser DC Thomson & Co Ltd
81,002
12 Shropshire Star Shropshire Newspapers
79,460
13 The Herald (Glasgow) Newsquest (Herald and Times)
78,746
14 The Sentinel (Stoke-on-Trent) Staffordshire Sentinel Newspapers Ltd
73,210
15 Nottingham Evening Post Nottingham Post Group Ltd
72,269
16 Eastern Daily Press (Norwich)  
71,095
17 Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds) Yorkshire Post Newspapers Ltd
68,635
18 Evening News (Edinburgh) Scotsman Publications
63,771
19 Sheffield Star  
62,623
20 News & Sports Mail (Portsmouth)  
60,663
Source: The Newspaper Society/ABC

Regional newspaper groups: historyBack to top

There are 21 provincial newspapers still published which were founded before 1776. Berrow's Worcester Journal (around 1690) and the Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury (around 1695) are the oldest. These pre-date the surviving national papers, the Times (1785) and the Observer(1791). In absolute terms the oldest paper is the London Gazette (1665). Belfast's News Letter dates from 1737 and the specialist daily for the shipping industry, Lloyd's List, from 1734. The British Library has a concise history of the British newspaper since 1620and other resources.

Regional newspaper groups: the 1990s Back to top

The 1990s saw substantial re-structuring of the industry. Reed and Pearson sold off their interests in regional papers which were seen as unfashionable and being under threat from Internet-based advertising. However, the sector was seen to turn around with three of the biggest, Trinity, Northcliffe and Newsquest, working together to set up their own websites under the This is ... brand; Trinity took over national Mirror group in September 1999; further rationalisation (eg Johnston taking over Portsmouth and Sunderland in May 1999; Gannett buying Newsquest; Newsquest buying Newscom; fight over RIM); and aggressive co-operative marketing through advertising campaigns, online marketing and CD-Roms for campaign planning from Northcliffe. Investors in the Newsquest buy-out were offered a 66% return on their investment within four years with the June 1999 approach by USA Today group Gannett, the largest in the US by circulation. 

Regional groups: online strategy Back to top

In the mid-1990s, three of the biggest groups, Trinity, Northcliffe and Newsquest, developed a co-operative strategy after initially setting up their own sites for individual papers. For example, the Newsquest title the Watford Observer had its own site, but this was later subsumed into This is Hertfordshire, although it has later separated off again. Groups of local papers set up under the This is ... brand. An overall gateway This is Britain was established (since closed; the link goes to the Daily Mail). This is Local London covers the greater London area as a set of 25 towns, a 'family of digital communities', from Bromley to Watford. Backing these up was a set of advertising gateways under the AdHunter banner launched in 1997:
  • Find It, a database of 1.8 million businesses
  • Job Hunter
  • Auction Hunter
  • Auto Hunter
  • Property Hunter
In October 1999, the main classified sites were relaunched under the 'Fish4' brand. This was led by six regional newspaper groups: Newsquest, Northcliffe, Trinity Mirror, Guardian Media Group Regional Newspapers, Regional Independent Media, and Bristol United Press. Nine other groups were involved: Newscom, Jersey Evening Post, Guernsey Evening Press, Tindle, Cumbrian, Kent Messenger, Johnston Press, Tweeddale Press and Associated Newspapers (London Evening Standard). The sites aggregated classified advertising from about 800 daily and weekly regional newspapers:
  • fish4cars database of used cars
  • fish4homes started with 30,000 properties in seven regions
  • fish4it search engine of 1.4 million businesses (since closed)
  • fish4jobs 50,000 jobs drawn  from the member newspapers

This is Britain (which had been a .com address) was relaunched as .co.uk to act as a gateway linking to the 60-plus 'This is …' sites, though this has since closed. 
Overall advertising sales were managed by Real Media

To improve regionals' image, a spring 2000 advertising campaign in the marketing press promoted the results of a report on the future of regional papers, called Now, and a website, Perspectives (since closed). This also contained links to a digital artwork delivery service, AdFast.


Profiles of top 10 regional groups Back to top

Archant (formerly Eastern Counties Newspaper Group) Based in Norwich. Has 80 titles, including the Eastern Daily Press. Bought Home Counties group in 1998. In March 2002 Eastern Counties Newspaper Group changed its name to Archant to reflect its broadening geographic scope and increasing magazine portfolio
Associated Newspapers Ltd Controls London's Evening Standard and daily freesheet Metro and Ireland on Sunday. Subsidiary of Daily Mail and General Trust plc
D C Thomson Based in Dundee. Founded in 1905 and famed for papers such as the Sunday Post, Scots magazine, and comics such as the Beano (founded in 1938)
Guardian Media Group plc Regional Newspaper Division owns Manchester Evening News, Manchester Metro News, City Life and 40 other paid-for and free titles in Berkshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Surrey. Plus 25 local websites. Owns quarter share of Fish4
Johnston Press Became fourth biggest group in May 1999 with purchase of Portsmouth and Sunderland. Has 200+ titles all over the UK. Based in Edinburgh 
Midland News Association Ltd Comprises Express & Star Ltd in Wolverhampton with 11 papers, led by the daily West Midlands - Express & Star and Shropshire Newspapers Ltd in Telford with 7 papers, including the daily Shropshire Star
Mirror Group Regional Newspapers (now Trinity) Taken over by Trinity. MGRN was a top five company with 44 papers, including Midland Independent Newspapers (Birmingham Post and Mail) and Northern Ireland's number two title, the News Letter
Newsquest corporate site and media sales Top-five group formed in September 1995 through management buy-outs of papers from Reed and Pearson (Westminster Press) funded by US investors Cinven and KRR. Bought up by US group Gannett Co, Inc (owner of the only national US daily, USA Today) in June 1999 with offer of £904m. Bought Newscom in 2000 and Glasgow's Herald and Evening Times in 2002 from SMG.

Newsquest site profiles the group's 20+ titles (includes Northern Echo, where Harold Evans made his name, Oxford Mail and Brighton Evening Argus). Runs regional web sites under the This is... brand. The first covered Lancashire in June 1995:

  • http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/
  • http://www.thisishertfordshire.co.uk/
    Virginia-based Gannett publishes 74 daily papers; owns 21 TV stations; and has cable interests in three states. It is one of the top newspaper groups in the world by circulation (with Murdoch's News Corporation) 
  • Northcliffe Newspapers Group One of the top five with 110 titles (17 dailies). Controlled by Daily Mail and General Trust plc. Runs 13 community sites under the This is ... banner with others being developed in partnership with Newsquest and Trinity. Accessed through This is Britain portal. 
    Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers (now Johnston) Bought by Johnston Press in May 1999 for £245m. Publishes 23 titles. Four are dailies: Portsmouth News, Sunderland Echo, Hartlepool Mail and South Shields Gazette. Founded in mid-1800s. Also owns 200 grocery stores. Formerly under the control of the Storey family 
    Reed Newspapers Acquired by Newsquest in 1995
    Regional Independent Media (now Johnston) Bought by Johnston in April 2002. Owned 102 regional papers centred on Yorkshire, such as the Yorkshire Post (founded in 1754 as Leeds Intelligencer) and Sheffield Star. Formed in February 1997 when United News & Media sold the papers to the venture capital company Candover for £360 million. Based in Leeds
    Scotsman Publications Ltd Controlled by the Barclay brothers' Press Holdings Ltd (profile). Publishes The Scotsman (which has a free archive of the period 1817 to 1920), the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland on Sunday (launched August 7, 1988) from Edinburgh
    Trinity Mirror plc UK's largest newspaper group since Trinity (then the largest regional group) took over the Mirror Group in September 1999. Has 240 local and regional newspapers, including Liverpool Daily Post (1855) and Echo. Doubled in size from its Liverpool base when it bought Thomson regionals for £327 million in 1995. Also took over Scottish and Universal in 1992 for £43 million. Head office in London, registered in Chester. Has five national newspapers, four sports titles and 60 websites. Partner in This is... and Fish4 websites.

    Related newspaper bodies Back to top

    ABC Audit Bureau of Circulations. Founded 1931. Audits newspaper and magazine sales; audits Web site traffic; verifies free publications (VFD). Registration required (free)
    Ad Web Host site for a range of media companies, including the Newspaper Society and JICREG, the Joint Industry Committee for Regional Newspapers. Holds database on regional and local papers with sales statistics, etc
    All Media Scotland portal for journalists and media professionals
    British Newspaper Library In Colindale, north London. Information on contents and visiting. Also newspaper history and other resources
    NRS National Readership Survey. Measures readership (as opposed to sales) of major papers and magazines. Yearly survey asks 38,000+ people about their reading habits. Covers 232 national newspapers and magazines and 12 regional papers
    Newspaper Society   Founded in 1836. Represents 1400 regional newspapers in the UK. Links to these papers and other related sites
    Regional Newspapers Database Run by the Newspaper Society
    Scottish Newspaper
    Publishers Association
    represents 18 groups owning some 100 weekly or bi-weekly paid papers and 30 freesheets
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