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The Laz Word: Who killed the Liverpool Post?

Starved of life and resources, it could have been avoided, says Larry Neild

Written by . Published on December 10th 2013.


The Laz Word: Who killed the Liverpool Post?
 

SO who killed the Liverpool Post? It wasn’t Murdoch of any of the big press barons. It wasn’t the decision-makers of Liverpool eager to throttle any publication highlighting their sometimes unpopular decisions. Its death is a business and economic decision by Trinity Mirror, the company that owns the paper and a string of others. 

To me the end of the  Daily Post is a case of premature euthanasia. Trinity Mirror and other newspaper owners have thrown in the towel, or should that be newsprint, far too early. As they say, there was still plenty of life in the old dog.
The Post was subjected to a media version of the Liverpool Care Pathway, denied the elixir of fuel, and that could only ever lead to one ending 
When the paper switched last year from a daily to a weekly, I thought it would have a fighting chance of survival. A brave new world beckoned as a weekly, the chance to examine and scrutinise the topsy turvy worlds  of politics and business, the opportunity to carefully and thoughtfully examine the stories affecting every Merseysider, an eye on culture and the arts, leisure and entertainment.
 
You would think a city region with a population of around 1.7m would provide a sizeable army of readers. Starved of sufficient editorial resources, with little or no marketing or promotion, it was left to fend for itself in a cruel, changing world.
 
Once the executives of the papers had decided there was no or little future in print journalism, it was a case of managed decline. It is as though the Post was subjected to a media version of the Liverpool Care Pathway, denied the elixir of fuel, and that could only ever lead to one ending.
 
I am one of the few journalists still working  to have been based at the company’s old office in Victoria Street, now known as Millennium House. In the early 70s the Daily Post sales were in six-figures, and Echo sales were even higher.
 
As Father of the Chapel, the antiquated name given to chairs of trade unions in the print industry, I was involved in often heated discussions about "new technology". The old print unions were, understandably, fighting for their lives. 

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Once one of the company bosses said to me: "Do you know Larry, the new technology we are talking about is upstairs in boxes.  The boxes are unopened, and yet the equipment is already obsolete." Such were the rapid changes. 

In another exchange one of the bosses asked why journalists expected more money when computers would make our lives easier. "Because, that’s why," was the only reply.  Our own union, the NUJ, was dragged into the battle; we had no say.
 
Out went the old hot metal, the copy boys (and girls), the messengers, a whole raft of people disappeared to be replaced by magical little computers.
 
It gave the newspaper owners the chance to invest  money saved in quality journalism. But instead they kept the savings for themselves.
 
Today’s readers look to various electronic devices for their daily diets of news and information, the recession took away loads of advertising, and the slump followed.
 
Yet we are constantly reading that grey Britain, the over 50s, are the biggest group, millions of them wanting good quality newspapers. A sector of people eager to grease their fingers with printer’s ink rather than waltz over keyboards on a handheld thingy.
 
The writing, though, was on the wall long before the arrival of the computer age. When I joined the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Company Ltd it was a family-owned business. The great Jeans family set up a business structure to ward off potential raids by the media moguls. The company bought the family firms that had run the weekly groups in Wirral and Southport. Essentially they had cleverly boxed off Merseyside into a cosy newspaper dynasty, a virtual monopoly.
 


They expanded,  adding a papermaking operation called Trinity to the fold, but these offshoots were subsidiaries of the LDP Co Ltd. They bought Mirror Group Newspapers, post Maxwell, and that’s when the gravediggers started to prepare their worst.  
Trinity Mirror was formed and what had been the old granddad, the LDPE, became no more than a grandchild.  The centre of gravity moved from Liverpool to Chester and then to Canary Wharf. One by one the Liverpool directors who had flown the Merseyside flag in faraway London left, until there were no home-grown advocates
 
In the end there is a cocktail of reasons to explain the death of a newspaper. But at the end of the day it could have been avoided.

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35 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Patrick HurleyDecember 10th 2013.

"It gave the newspaper owners the chance to invest money saved in quality journalism. But instead they kept the savings for themselves." And that's the money quote, right there. It's long been clear that here's no future for the staff in being a King Canute Luddite ostrich, but then, there's evidently no future for the owners in doing the opposite either.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Fairy nuffDecember 11th 2013.

I've read this post five times, and it's in need of translating. I'm still not sure what you're point is. Have you ever thought of being a politician....................a serious one.

Fairy nuffDecember 11th 2013.

your, before you post pedant

AnonymousDecember 11th 2013.

Surely it should be "in need of translation" ? Do try harder

Fairy nuffDecember 11th 2013.

I said Pedant not peasant

AnonymousDecember 10th 2013.

Ahh well Joe Anderson will be happy. He has been deeply hurt and upset by some of the editorial lines, or opinions expressed in the Post and Echo of late. After years of simply re-printing every press release from the council or in praise of Peel Holdings, they recently dared suggest that he may not always get it right 100% of the time and even made a mild joke or called him rude names in one of the opinion columns by Mr Brocklerileymakin. They even suggested that there may be something fishy about Liverpool Direct salaries and Chinese investors in Peel's Liverpool and Wirral Waters! They went too far! A disgrace! The Mayor's piece on the Labour website moved me to tears. What the poor man has had to endure from these bullies! Thank goodness that's one less wicked rag having the audacity to comment.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Joe NaiveDecember 13th 2013.

yeah, I wept too. I thought this man has a persecution complex. Still the CEO's of several building companies thought highly of him, even to the point of saying so in their rag.

OH StreetDecember 11th 2013.

Even in the good times, the cards held by the Post weren't great. When it became the Liverpool Daily Post after splitting from the Welsh edition there was a golden opportunity to capture an audience in Liverpool disenfranchised by the Echo. Unfortunately that opportunity was wasted by a management who mistook hobnobbing with Bernard Hogan Howe, badly judged fashion spreads and dozens of crosswords with reality. And those were the good days. No wonder readers dropped off like flies. No passion, just self serving management lackeys

Lord StreetDecember 11th 2013.

I never had a chance to buy it as a weekly, I hardly ever saw it on sale; I think I saw one in the Co-op once. Just like the late North West Enquirer in fact. How can the public buy papers that aren't actually being offered for sale?

Lord StreetDecember 11th 2013.

What might have put many readers off was that business a few years ago when faithful readers were stumping up full price for the Daily Post when stacks of them were being given away free every day in certain car parks used by councillors and 'businessmen'. There was some kind of glossy business magazine that they couldn't give away with the Post that littered the car park stair wells long after all the papers had been taken.

John ShawDecember 11th 2013.

Thanks for giving us your perspective Larry, an honest and forthright one. There is a void, one that some arbiter of what is right, wrong, or even dubious can voice his opinion on. Maybe this is the time for such a crusader to step up to the plate.

AnonymousDecember 11th 2013.

I bet a certain PR company is shedding tears over the end of the Post. Where will they be able to shovel all that shite from now on.

AnonymousDecember 11th 2013.

The Daily Post was like Radio Miseryside in that it only appealed to an ever decreasing circle of pensioners. I wish the Echo would go the same way with it's deluded politics. Good riddance to bad rubbish

9 Responses: Reply To This...
Fairy nuffDecember 12th 2013.

"an ever decreasing circle of pensioners" What makes you think we can afford to pay £1 for a newspaper?

AnonymousDecember 13th 2013.

Pensioners are the only class of people to see their living standards rise during this time of austerity. Maybe if they didn't piss all their money away in the pound a pint pubs of London Road, The Daily Post wouldn't have gone under.

fairy NuffDecember 13th 2013.

you're an embittered little shit aren't you. If your silly enough to believe the crap postured by the Tories, so be it. The reality is retired people have had to work and contribute for 44 years to get a state pension, many are existing on a fraction of their previous earnings, much of which is eroded by ever increasing utility bills. the cost of food rises daily not to mention other services and consumables. I can't afford to indulge myself in public houses, whether it be for a £1 or £3. I worked for over fifty years and let me assure you my pension pot paled into insignificance compared with the huge amounts amassed by our Tory countrymen. I subsist on a third of my former income, but the cost of living and die-ing continues to increase bird brain.

fairy NuffDecember 13th 2013.

As for "times of austerity".... bollocks.....Our generation can tell you all you need to know about austerity.

AnonymousDecember 13th 2013.

Ooooh get her!

AnonymousDecember 13th 2013.

Our generation can tell you all you need to know about austerity. Oooh do tell!

Fairy NuffDecember 13th 2013.

Mock all you like, you've got years of shit to come, we haven't. Whoever set the retirement age at 65 had it spot on. Many of the working class don't get to see a pension, they peg out beforehand. So that smirk your wearing will be on the other side of your pan, that's if you ever live to see seventy.

AnonymousDecember 13th 2013.

I had to get up half an hour before I went to bed.... There were 17 of us living in a shoe box in the middle of the M62... And you tell that to kids today and they won't believe you...

Martha FitzsimmonsDecember 13th 2013.

I'm with anon the government SHOULD target pensioners, they take everything contribute nothing and expect it all for free! and they have the cheek to try and get on the bus before 930! fuck off! and no you're not having my seat.

AnonymousDecember 11th 2013.

One good thing to come out of this is that the Daily and Weekly Post was obsessed with Phil Redmond and kept giving him space and even a regular column where he would write incomprehensible drivel. With luck there will be no further outlets for him and his pseudo scouse waffle, or speaking on behalf of "we the people" making it look like we are all as thick as him.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 13th 2013.

Good point. Getting shut of the phony Prof, the Tory-schmoozing Phil Redmond, is an excellent reason to cheer the closure of the Post

AnonymousDecember 12th 2013.

It might have been full of tripe but there's no tripe quite like Larry Nield tripe, what's with the analogy with the Liverpool Care Pathway? Rubbish.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 12th 2013.

Thought that was quite good actually. How sensitive of you

AnonymousDecember 12th 2013.

poetic licence dear chap

Appalled, franklyDecember 13th 2013.

The Liverpool Echo doesn't exactly inspire confidence with this kind of thing. An apology from its Facebook Page just now: "James Bennion Yesterday we tweeted that a body had been found in Albert Dock. That followed confirmation from the emergency services and was some time after we were aware of the fact. In hindsight we should have checked with police that the family had been informed. However, we can categorically state that police did not ask us to withhold that information. We frequently receive such requests and always respect them. We would like to convey our sincere condolences to everyone who knew and loved James at their terrible loss. We unreservedly apologise for any distress caused."

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 13th 2013.

Tweeting from the Albert Dock that a body had been found and that is how his frantic family found out. Disgraceful

AnonymousDecember 13th 2013.

"Hindsight", wrong word. It should have read "We should be more circumspect", followed by an apology.

AnonymousDecember 13th 2013.

The explanation should not precede the apology.

SaladDazeDecember 13th 2013.

Where can I buy the Liverpool Free Press?

Mickeydrippin'December 13th 2013.

When it was the Daily Post, it suffered from competition from the national daily papers and at one stage it was known as the morning edition of the Echo. Compared with the circulation of the Echo, I only ever knew a handful of people who bought it regularly. It's circulation dropped even further with the advent of the internet and that is why it changed to a weekly paper. It's sad but inevitable that it has now closed.

AnonymousFebruary 17th 2014.

Perhaps the Post would have worked as a quality local Sunday paper, I would have bought it in preference to the Sunday Echo we have now.

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