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Paper battle heats up

COMPETITION in the suburban newspaper market is set to increase with Community News-papers planning changes to at least two of its titles – the Guardian Express and the Fremantle Gazette.

The changes come hot on the heels of Community’s successful revamp of its struggling News Chronicle last year that resulted in publication of the Western Suburbs Weekly.

Community News editor-in-chief Iain Cameron confirmed changes would be made to the Guardian Express and that the group was considering a revamp of its Fremantle title.

However, whether the makeover would be as extreme as the one that created the Western Suburbs Weekly is unclear.

“We’re always trying to improve our products. We’re following what the market wants,” Mr Cameron said.

The Herald Publishing Company, owner of the Fremantle Herald and Voice newspapers, is likely to be most affected by the changes.

The Guardian is a direct competitor to the Voice, which services the Town of Vincent and Northbridge, while the Gazette competes with its Herald.

Herald Publishing Company publisher Andrew Smith said he believed Community would miss the mark with readers.

“This will be business as usual for us,” he said.

“They can revamp as much as they like. At the end of the day they still have to establish a relationship with their readers.”

Mr Cameron said the Western Suburbs Weekly had exceeded Community’s “wildest expectations”.

Towards the end of its life the News Chronicle ran at 24 to 28 pages. The Western Suburbs Weekly runs at about 60 pages.

However, while it is drawing advertising support, there is doubt as to whether it is picking up readers.

In its July 6 edition Post News-papers claimed it had picked up 83,000 readers.

“The figures show that 52,000 people who enjoy the Post don’t read the western suburbs’ Community newspapers,” its story says.

When the Western Suburbs Weekly was launched last year there was conjecture that it was aimed at breaking the Post’s stranglehold over the hearts and minds of western suburbs readers.

The Post has been a thorn in the side of Community Newspapers for much of its 25 years in print.

Mr Cameron has always denied this was the case.

He said the Western Suburbs Weekly had been created to fill the void left by the demise of News Limited’s Perth Weekly.

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