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14.05.2005 General News

Why The Evening News folded up

By Public Agenda

Public Agenda has gathered that the management of New Times Corporation, publishers of The Evening News took the painful decision to stop the publication of the paper because of the difficult business environment. The paper's books show that over the last few months it has piled up a monthly bill of 160 million cedis, recording its worse performance in December last year, when it made a loss of 207 million cedis.

At a hurriedly arranged meeting on Thursday, May 5, the Managing Director of New Times Corporation, Nanabayin Pratt announced that with effect from May 6, The Evening News would stop publishing because of its rising overhead costs.

“It is no longer possible to run the paper because it makes a loss of 160 million cedis a month”, he told the corporations staff.

He, however, made it clear that no one should point accusing fingers at any individual for the collapse of the paper. As a result of its closure its cream of good journalists have been divided among The Ghanaian Times and The Weekly Spectator, the two remaining titles of the corporation.

Also Ebo Quansah, former editor of The Evening News has been appointed consulting editor to The Ghanaian Times and The Spectator.

Some reporters were so downhearted by management's decision to close the paper that they took early annual leaves, perhaps, to contemplate their future with the corporation.

New Times Corporation has been hard hit by staff turnover, with some of its best journalists joining its competitor, Daily Graphic.

Pratt told the workers that The Ghanaian Times in the last three decades had become so much politicized that no one wanted to read it. Because of that management decided to reintroduce The Evening News to concentrate on political news, while Ghanaian Times tried to redeem its image. He said to that extent The Evening News achieved its objective, but it was unfortunate that the corporation could no longer go on with its operations.

Pratt was happy that in the last few years, The Ghanaian Times has regained its readership, with sales impressively growing. Early this week, the management of New Times Corporation took another bold decision to change the paper from a broadsheet to a tabloid format. The transition from broadsheet to tabloid is a re-branding mechanism adopted by many newspapers across the world faced with dwindling circulation figures.

In a study “Will Newspapers Survive the Digital Era”, published in the April 4, 2005 edition of Public Agenda, yours truly, found out that broadsheets, especially in Europe are seeing their circulation drop as older readers die and young readers choose other sources of news. Apart from their size, the broadsheets are also facing tough new competition from free morning and evening metro tabloids.

Until its folding up on May 6 The Evening News and The Ghanaians Times were the only broadsheets in Ghana, but being broadsheets did not make much of a difference as circulation continues to decline. In a major management decision within a few days, The Evening News is no more and The Ghanaian Times has become a tabloid. Will these changes reflect in sales? Time will tell.

According to the press historians, The Evening News was founded in 1948 in the heat of the campaign for independence. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who later became Ghana's first president, launched the paper, ostensibly to counter the more influential Daily Graphic which was then owned by British Mirror Group and used as a propaganda mouthpiece of the colonialists. On attaining independence in 1957, the CPP government nationalized the Graphic Corporation, along side The Ghanaian Times, but Daily Graphic has remained the more viable of the two state-owned dailies.

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