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Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
news After 128 years as a daily afternoon broadsheet the Ashburton Guardian (circulation 5670) switched to a morning publication on August 13. The newspaper's general manager, Mark Kennedy, says that given the amount of interest and discussion the publication shift to morning has generated he would anticipate some other regional afternoon- published dailies following suit. He believes that his is the first daily regional paper in New Zealand to shift from afternoon to morning production. Why the change? Kennedy told the PANPA Bulletin that the move had been considered and discussed for several years. A fact-finding visit last year to Ross McPherson and his team at The Shepparton News in Victoria helped in the decision- making and planning. The Shepparton News successfully shifted to morning publica- tion 12 years ago and circulates in a similar rural-based area. "Upon laying out all of the evidence for and against the shift to morning publica- tion, it was clear to us that we should make the move," Kennedy said. "The opportunity to significantly improve news content by lengthening the newsroom workday, increase rural sub- scriptions plus agency paper sales couldn't be ignored. And the feedback from many advertisers, large and small, has also been very positive. We officially announced the August 13 shift to morning in March this year to give our readers plenty of time to get used to the idea," Kennedy said. Kennedy reports that there were no major problems in planning the change, but there were some major changes in estab- lishing new newsroom work structures and paper delivery networks. "We effectively had to extend our news gathering and publishing workday through to 11.30pm and put a sixth production day (Sunday) to the newsroom and subbery," Kennedy said. What is to be done to counter the Ashburton Guardian's major rival, the Christchurch-published The Press (circula- tion 90,030) also arriving in time for early morning readers? "What we have always done -- provide well researched, credible, local community based news and information that is criti- cally important to newspaper readers in our market. The Guardian is also very closely at- tached to the community and is much more than just a news and information provider," Kennedy said. Redesign of the newspaper is planned for next year rather than coinciding with the switch to morning publication. No format change is planned. Ashburton Guardian switches to morning publication By Warren Page