Deal may be imminent to save Newry Reporter from closing

Talks are understood to be ongoing with National World to save the Newry Reporter from closure
Gary McDonald Business Editor

A DEAL may be imminent to save Newry's oldest weekly newspaper from closing next week.

The Newry Reporter, first published in October 1867, said last month that its last edition is due to be published on January 25.

But the Irish News can reveal that British multimedia company and media takeover vehicle National World has made a formal move to buy the Reporter.

National World is led by industry veteran David Montgomery.

Its current stable of titles includes the Belfast Newsletter and a number of weekly titles in the former Morton Newspaper Group, including the Ulster Star, Portadown Times and Mid-Ulster Mail.

It is understood acquisition negotiations with National World have been ongoing for some time.

And while a formal agreement has yet to be reached, the matter is currently in the hands of lawyers, and signs of a successful deal appear promising, although no-one from the Newry Reporter or National World would comment.

A successful deal would mean the Reporter's staff of more than 15 would all keep their jobs, and the presses would continue to roll at the paper, which has a weekly circulation of around 4,000.

National World was founded as JPIMedia Publishing Ltd in November 2018 following the acquisition of Johnston Press assets by its creditors.

It has had an aggressive acquisition strategy, and just this month announced that it has completed two more take-over deals as part of a strategy to develop new formats and increase the size of its customer base.

The company acquired independent digital football publisher ScoopDragon and video-first content innovator, NewsChain, which focuses on news, celebrity and football.

National World has a deep heritage in footballing content through local and regional newsbrands, while the acquisition of NewsChain supports its goal of meeting increased customer demand for content in a video format.

Commenting on the investment and partnership, National World’s strategy director Alan Renwick, said: “We’re delighted to have completed these key deals which align with our digital growth strategy.

“With the founders of the businesses continuing to work with National World to help develop and integrate the sites, this also supports the company strategy to develop a more entrepreneurial, fast paced and innovative digital culture.”

The Newry Reporter has been in the hands of the Hodgett family for the best part of a century.

They also owned the Banbridge Chronicle from the late 1970s, which also appeared likely to close at the end of 2021 before DNG Media, an independent publisher based in Dumfries and Galloway, stepped in to buy save it.