Nov 15 2016

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Sentinel slide continues as paper sales continue to tumble

Sentinel-newspaperSales of The Sentinel newspaper, based in Stoke-on-Trent, have hit a new low in its 162 year history, according to the latest circulation figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which shows average daily sales in June 2016 of 27,167.

This is a 40% decline on The Sentinel sales just 4 years ago of 48,155 copies. During the same period readers have been clobbered with a 50% price hike from 40p to 60p a copy.

Newspapers, both national and regional, have been hit as people increasingly get their news online for free.

The Sentinel website had initially seen an increase in traffic as paper sales declined, but this seems to have peaked as average monthly website visitors are down again 1.28m in December 2015 – in June 2015 they stood at 1.43m. to 1.05m according to ABC.

The Sentinel is a daily regional newspaper circulating in the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire area; is the sixth biggest-selling regional newspaper in the UK and is the only newspaper delivering daily news and features on professional football clubs Stoke City, Port Vale and Crewe Alexandra.

The Sentinel also operates an online website with sections on news, sport and entertainment as well as a comprehensive directory of local businesses. The company also uses Twitter and Facebook to break news and communicate with readers

Sentinel Editor-in-Chief Martin Tideswell said:

“The last 12 months has marked another period of exciting evolution and growth for The Sentinel – during which we were taken over by a new parent company, Trinity Mirror. Our overall audience continues to increase. Particularly pleasing is that, in recent months, 1,000 people have signed up for our Sentinel PLUS loyalty scheme for newspaper subscriptions.

“Meanwhile, online, unique browsers to our website are up 14 per cent year-to-date, total visits are up 22 per cent and visits per browser are up 15 per cent. All of this is really encouraging ahead of the arrival – at the end of the year – of our new website which will offer more functionality and a better user experience.

“Inevitably, these days people are consuming The Sentinel’s journalism in a variety of ways – via the traditional and much-loved print medium, our website and – increasingly – via social media.

“Indeed, our social media presence is growing so fast that my email signature requires constantly updating (as you can see below!). We now have 73,000 likes on our main Facebook page, 47,000 likes on our main Twitter page, and our other pages and platforms (for example, dedicated Stoke City and Port Vale Facebook and Twitter pages and accounts/nostalgia Facebook page etc.) have grown to a substantial presence in a very short space of time. Meanwhile, individual Sentinel journalists are now followed by hundreds of thousands of readers on social media.

“The increasing success of our monthly stand-alone Way We Were nostalgia publications is also something we are also particularly proud of.

“Our print re-design 18 months ago was the result of substantial market research involving reader focus groups. It was very well received – especially our #localandproud focus, the daily positive page three articles, an increase in comment pieces by respected local individuals, the freshening up of platforms such as Lifestyle, and weekly features like ShopLocal which promote local, independent retailers.

“What is particularly pleasing for me, as I approach my second anniversary as the first local Editor in more than 40 years, is that – alongside the excellent daily news, sport and features service we provide to our readers – we also have a significant number of great local campaigns and events under our belt – ranging from the Our Heroes Awards, Sentinel Business Awards and City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Awards to the Our Big Read children’s literacy campaign in partnership with Staffordshire University and our recent dementia awareness campaign.

“I believe this is exactly the kind of journalism any local or regional newspaper worth its salt should be doing and the reality is that, without The Sentinel, these events and campaigns – which champion local people and our patch – simply wouldn’t exist.”

“I am also very proud to say that during the last 12 months, as the largest media organisation in Staffordshire, we have won and been shortlisted for a raft of industry awards which underlines the excellence and calibre of our team.

“To quote the judges in the North West Media Awards: The Sentinel is ‘a superb regional newspaper which clearly cares about its communities’.”

About the author

Mike Barnes

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