Tindle Newspapers Ltd.

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Trusted News Day: Newspaper boss looks to the future with confidence

Thu 13 Jun 2019 in Tindle Group News

Compelling local content, holding those in authority to account, and supporting the community – they’re all key aspects if a local newspaper is to be successful. 

And Tindle Newspapers, the publishers of the Cambrian News, is well placed to do all that – and more. At a time when many media groups are struggling, Tindle – launched by Sir Ray Tindle after the Second World War with his £250 demob money – continues to look to the future with confidence. 

Danny Cammiade, the firm’s chief executive, has a lifetime’s media experience behind him. In an exclusive interview to mark Journalism Matters Week, Mr Cammiade looks at how the media landscape has changed, why small is beautiful, how Tindle continues to thrive – and why the company is better placed than most to evolve and succeed.

How confident are you with the future of local newspapers? 

The great thing about Tindle Newspapers is that the core ingredient for sustaining local media – which is rich, local content – is there in abundance.

And it’s there in abundance because we have maintained our teams – leadership teams, journalists and sales people – in local territories. And we will continue to do that. 

And the reason that’s so important is because that is the DNA of a successful local media product. Those people live in those towns, they care about those towns, they participate. They belong. Their families are part of the economics of those towns. And we’ve been able to sustain that through a very challenging period in our industry and for the UK economy. 

Most of the industry has become digital first. But Tindle has held back from doing that – it still sees newspapers as king. Was that a deliberate strategy?

You can’t ignore the social change that has gone on. You’ve got to recognise things people want to look for from a commercial perspective – cars, property, things for sale – are best served by the digital world. 

That is separate from how can you put your company and your brands in front of prospective purchasers by selling the benefits of your businesses.

Newspapers still – and will do for some time to come – have significant audiences. Weekly newspapers particularly have a significant audience in each market for that to be a benefit and deliver results for those advertisers. 

If you can keep that, you’ve got a great opportunity. And the best way of keeping that is to capture that rich local content about what goes on in your community. 

So we will be in the digital space and increasingly we will do more things in the digital space, but it will be as well as, and not instead of.

Have newspapers almost gone in a full circle? In the past they used to be very, very local – if an ambulance shot past the end of the road, you’d buy your paper to see why.

I do think that being very localised gives you an advantage and gives the advertisers the best opportunity. There is lots of evidence that small parish pump-type publications are rising, and growing.

Sir Ray Tindle’s mantra has always been names and faces sell papers…

As an organisation, we haven’t moved away at all from what Sir Ray created and we’re pretty determined to keep the legacy of what he was able to do.

That doesn’t mean we won’t change with the commercial necessities we have to face. But that’s really about using technology to help people do their jobs.

It is true that advertising revenue has dropped by more than half in a relatively short period of time – less than ten years – and you can’t ignore that.

But this organisation has a culture and a set of values that will enable our newspapers and our products to continue to do what they have always done – provide an important source of local news and information in relatively small communities. 

Will there be newspapers as we now know them in ten years’ time, 20 years?

If only I knew! There needs to be a solution for editorial content to be paid for, because it can’t be supported by advertising alone, like it once was. 

So the holy grail is to ensure we are holding our councils to account, we have sufficient resources to do things, to investigate things at a local level, and that it is maintained – but it needs to be funded and we have to find a way of doing that.

In Tindle’s case, we’re in a better position to do that – and we’re in a better position this year than we were last year. 

Is it still fun? 

Yes. Goodness me, yes. 

I’ve always been a person who loves to come to work and that hasn’t changed. It’s probably more fun now.

When you go around the country looking at the Tindle newspapers, what still gives you a buzz? 

All the company’s papers come to me and I look at every one every week. 

I read stories that engage me and I read stories from towns I don’t know very much about. But I enjoy the stories.

(Originally published in Cambrian News)