Johnston Press Ltd has agreed to sell The Isle of Man Examiner (1880), The Isle of Man Courier (1884) and the Manx Independent (1987) and the TT News magazine to Tindle Newspapers Ltd.
For Tindle Newspapers Sir Ray said he was delighted with the deal as the three Isle of Man papers had obviously been very well managed and excellently edited. Sir Ray said they must clearly be superb journalists and newspaper staffs to have been able to publish and maintain such splendid local weekly papers with such very good figures.
“Buying a profitable local weekly set-up such as the Isle of Man trio is certainly a departure from our early days when, without much cash, we mostly bought papers that were in trouble, or we had to launch them ourselves”, said Sir Ray.
“We are most grateful to Ashley Highfield and his colleagues for all their assistance in bringing about this agreement.”
Notes about Tindle Newspapers
Sir Ray will be 90 this year. His local weekly newspaper group is entirely independent both financially and politically. There are no other shareholders. He had his first experience of journalism by publishing a newspaper in the Army. He and Vice Chairman Wendy Craig have completed 100 years in local weekly papers between them. His son, Owen, will inherit the Tindle Group. Owen helped in the restoration of that pioneer of Press freedom the Tenby Observer in 1978 following its closure by previous owners. He now runs his own management conference centre which he founded in Kent. The Tenby Observer has a special place in Press history. It led one of the great struggles for Press freedom in this country and as a direct result of its stand in which it received the support of Lord Northcliffe and other leading newspapermen of the day – all newspapers gained the right to attend and report meetings of Councils.
The Tenby Observer’s battle resulted in the passing of the Admission of the Press Act 1908. Seventy years later, in 1978, this famous newspaper was engaged in another fight – this time for its life. It has been in TNL’s ownership ever since 1978. It had gone broke and had closed down when Ray Tindle bought it. It has been profitable ever since and is now managed by Andrew Adamson.
As soon as he reached the minimum age necessary, Ray Tindle joined the wartime Army in l944. On a troopship bound for the Far East he was told by his C.O. as the ship left the UK that it was his (Tindle’s) job to keep the 1,000 soldiers aboard from becoming bored on the five week voyage.
“What do you suggest I do, Sir” said Ray
“That’s your problem” replied the C.O.
That’s how Ray Tindle started in journalism. He and some fellow soldiers launched a daily newspaper on Day 2 of the journey. The troops aboard were interviewed. Everyone was a soldier and everyone had a story. “Don’t misunderstand me”, said Ray. “They all said at first that they hadn’t got a story but they had. Some had been with Monty in the 8th Army fighting Rommel in the Western Desert. Some had served with Bill Slim in the 14th Army in Burma. Many had been in the 1944 campaigns in Europe. One had been in the l940 battle in France and had been brought back to the UK from Dunkirk in that famous and brilliant evacuation of 330,000 soldiers organised by Admiral Ramsay and the Royal Navy.”
“No one thought they had done anything in particular but in fact, as I say, everyone had a story. We interviewed in the mornings. Typed the articles with two fingers in the afternoons. Printed the pages on the Adjutant’s hand-operated Roneo duplicating machine, and then stapled them together in the evenings. Sometimes we didn’t finish that night but returned to complete the job before breakfast. (Any credit must go to the whole newspaper team: they worked like Trojans.)”
“Of course we made many errors but after a few days the troops grew to love the ship’s paper. They waited for it to appear each day and seemed to enjoy it, ………… particularly the errors!”
“That five weeks “crash course” in journalism decided my future. When I was “demobbed” from the Army complete with nearly £300 gratuity including some back pay (the only money I owned – I’ve never inherited anything) I set about finding a job in newspapers. It was almost 70 years ago that I joined a local weekly paper. I’ve been full-time on locals ever since. I’ve never done anything else, although I also served 17 years on The Guardian main board at the same time. I’ve loved every minute of a very long life in local weekly newspapers.”
“I tried semi-retirement for a few days but I didn’t like it much so I came back to full-time newspaper management. At the end of last year I thought I might slow down a bit but there is a special reason for my Isle of Man purchase.”
“I’ve never had to borrow a penny to build Tindle Newspapers Ltd. We now own nearly 200 local titles outright and have shares in another 200. We also own three excellent and profitable radio stations in Jersey, Guernsey and Tullamore.”
“Of course, things aren’t quite what they were in the past but I’m pleased to say that we’ve come through this dreadful seven year recession still not owing a penny and still not having made a single journalist compulsorily redundant, although we have had some voluntary redundancies.
“The UK Press has had a few rough years but has a long future ahead”, says Sir Ray. “I can’t speak for anyone else but I am convinced that local weekly papers will be with us for a very long time. Everyone wants to read about their own community, and they want to read about it in depth. Local names, local faces and local places! That’s what we do, and that’s what makes local papers special within the newspaper industry. They are part of their communities, they are trusted and, in my opinion, will live forever.
“With this in mind, and knowing as I do that journalists on our weeklies as well as on the UK’s excellent dailies are the best in the world, I have no hesitation in saying publicly that we have a great future ahead.”
“Our splendid journalists are backed by superb teams of advertisement and circulation staffs. They, together with our hard-working and loyal production, accounts and other personnel, produce daily newspapers and weekly local papers which make us proud. Of course, other forms of media now exist. They will run alongside our newspapers but they will not supplant them. In the Seventies and Eighties we had new competition from local commercial radio and local television and hundreds of new free papers covering the country but our best times for circulation and profit were in the Nineties and beyond despite all the new media. At Tindle Newspapers we ploughed back the profit to grow the group and create a more secure situation for ourselves. The papers have helped each other through bad times.”
“We are already making changes where necessary to enhance our publications. We have already split most of our larger papers into smaller local community editions and no doubt we’ll be introducing further improvements to make our papers even more attractive and viable and certainly making them even more essential to our communities. Newspapers have changed and evolved over hundreds of years since 1643 or thereabouts (and they had their own problems in those days!). My friends in the local newspaper industry will, I know, join me in saying that with our excellent staffs we’ll certainly be here for many years to come.”