The real lesson of plunging regional sales from Greenslade: "One of the main reasons for this is, of course, the gradual erosion of staff numbers and the parallel erosion of salaries. Too few people of real talent and ability are prepared to take up jobs in the regional press or, at least, to spend very long working there. Owners must be to blame for this. They failed to invest in journalism in the times when they were reaping rewards from a booming advertising market. And, when that boom was over, the first section to suffer cuts was editorial. Yes, there have been launches. Yes, there has been an understanding of the need to invest online, though that has been both belated and, too often, has been done on the cheap. But it’s undeniable that journalism is a labour intensive activity that make a time-and-motion approach to their work wholly inappropriate.
Unless owners grasp that editorial content is the key to wooing an audience the current cliff-fall will become steeper still and they will end up without any readers at all. Nor, once their print “brand” disappears, will they be able to hold on to an online readership either. In the immediate future at least, print and web have to run together in order to retain an audience. Unless owners and managers grasp that fact, they will hasten the demise of newspapers and, in so doing, rob communities of the main information source that underpins our democracy. And that ain’t as pompous as it sounds. It’s the reality staring us all in the face. "