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Newspaper shake-up will hit the streets on Monday

(April 10, 2010)
READERS of our much valued regional newspaper will see a significant change on Monday as the shake up of  the group begins to hit the news stands.

While the Western Daily Press still has a few reporters on the ground in this area its news content will now be decided in Plymouth, its wdp1production centred at Bristol and its printing in Didcot.

The Western Morning News and the Western Daily Press are now under the control of a single editor-in-chief, Alan Qualtrough, following last month's shake-up.

Andy Wright, editor of the WDP for the past five years, retired on Friday after a 40-year career in journalism.

Alan Qualtrough said the two titles will share the same design and pagination but will have different content except for some shared pages such as racing, national and international news, national sports results, TV and puzzles.

 "The themes of the new look are authority, clarity, entertainment and conversation,'' he said. ''The design enables us to increase word count by around 10pc thereby giving our readers better value for money."

western broadsheetThe Daily Press gets an entirely new masthead. (see above - left, still broadsheet in 1982))

Eleven jobs are being lost as a result of the merger of the content and subbing desks at the two titles.

Circulation of the Western Daily has crashed since it stopped being locally owned as part of the Bristol United Press - its fate seems to have mirrored that of our local independent TV station HTV west which has all but gone.

''I hope they can turn things around as I've been a regular reader of this paper since I was at school and its decline in recent years has been very sad to watch,'' said Steve Dancey.

''In the 1980s it was a must read newspaper in this area as its Trowbridge-based reporters Nigel Kerton and Brian Best got under the skin of the highly unpopular local council and police and regularly notched up cracking exclusives.

''Their work was backed up by the excellent photography of the late Bob Lowry and, of course, Trevor Porter - who is now with The Wiltshire Times.

''In Salisbury nothing ever escaped the watchful eye of their reporter David Humphrey who spent two decades centred on that patch.''

* While Plymouth is a long way away Warminster won't be overlooked entirely as the deputy editor of the Western Morning News is Philip Bowern, who was brought up in Warminster and whose parents still live here. His father Derek taught many local people to drive.

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