Cold start to 2023 for local newspapers as Newry Reporter ceases publication

The first edition of the Newry Reporter, founded by James Burns in late 1867, was not shy of advertising.

“Teas! Teas! Teas!” read one front-page advertisement for a local tea merchant. Another retailer declared that “new woollen goods” were now in stock for the winter ahead, while the wares on offer at the Newry Bazaar and Toy Warehouse were illustrated right beneath the masthead.

But the advertising incomes that supported the once-flourishing era for local newspapers have now waned to the point of unsustainability. The only ad on the front page of the most recent edition of the weekly Newry Reporter is an in-house one inviting buyers to either visit its website to subscribe or scan a QR code to obtain the newspaper’s contents digitally.

Sadly, that invitation will no longer be extended after the end of January, as the largest selling local weekly in the Newry and Mourne area is set to cease publication.

“It is with the utmost regret that the Newry Reporter has to announce that, after serving our local community for 155 years, the title will cease publication at the end of this month,” the company, owned by the Hodgett family since the 1920s, tweeted this week.

While Edward Hodgett Ltd was last year able to sell another newspaper in its stable, the Banbridge Chronicle, it has reportedly been unable to find a new owner for its Newry title.

The Newry Democrat, owned by Alpha Newspaper Group, is still printing. But the closure of the Newry Reporter, which this week covered subjects such as council rate increases and new funeral charges, will be a loss to the city.

Its shutdown continues a well-established pattern of local newspapers of long heritage disappearing, their viability undone by falling circulation and advertising revenues as well as cost pressures in the printing business. Local Ireland, the industry group that represents 42 titles in the Republic, has forecast an acceleration in the trend.

The outcome will be the proliferation of what is known in the US as “news deserts”, or communities that are no longer covered by meaningful local reporting.

Gordon Burns, former host of television gameshow The Krypton Factor and a great grandson of the founder, said he was “absolutely gutted” by the end of the Newry Reporter. He won’t be the only one. Indeed, it is not necessary to live in Newry to see the newspaper’s demise as an omen for further announcements to come.


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.