New Welsh daily targets dumbed down Mails patch
Published: Thursday, June 23, 2005
By Clive Betts
Wales could see two new morning newspapers within a year in competition with the established Western Mail, in response to perceived gaps in the market.
The Welsh Globe hopes to launch on 1 March St David's Day next year to fill the gap its backers say has been left by Trinity Mirror's downmarketing of the Cardiff-based Mail.
The group of businessmen behind the paper is understood to have designated former Western Mail deputy editor Peter Jones as editor although Jones refused to comment.
The other newcomer, the Welsh-language Y Byd (The World) previously featured in Press Gazette is now racing to avoid being pipped at the post: "It would be better if we appeared first," said Ned Thomas, who is attempting to lead Y Byd, which has been several years in gestation, to birth.
The radical new editorial line espoused by the Western Mail after years of slowly declining circulation has upset many of its traditional readers recent page one headlines include "General Strike to paralyse country?" (about civil service staff striking over pensions), and "Zeta drops off world power list" (film star Catherine Zeta Jones's earnings and PR mentions fall).
The group behind the paper is saying little about the names involved. A spokesman with the company raising the cash said: "This was a hard-nosed business decision by a number of leading Welsh businessmen as a result of the Western Mail moving downmarket and leaving an opportunity for a paper that serves the A, B, C1 market with a truly excellent level of reporting and comment."
He said quality would take precedence over the bottom line.
Jobs advertising with the growth of a Welsh-based public service has been identified as a key market.
When told of the planned launch, Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "That is good." The Western Mail no longer has a reporter in the Assembly's press gallery, and currently uses its Westminster lobby correspondent to cover many Assembly running stories.
It is believed the move was launched in February by a group of nine. One of the few names known is Elizabeth Haywood, who is married to Welsh Secretary and Neath MP Peter Hain.
Her involvement is said to have been purely in head-hunting an editor.
Managing director, it is understood, will be former Mail finance director Chris Pitson. He was joint managing director of the Western Mail and Echo until Keith Dye was brought in from the Midlands to run the operation.
Dye took its morning component downmarket under Alan Edmunds, previously editor of Wales on Sunday.
The newspaper's name is only a working title. The group intends to base its offices in Bridgend. It also intends to relaunch the regional editions that were once a cornerstone of the Western Mail.