Champagne, coffee and cake heralded the arrival this week of the first new Fenland edition of the Eastern Daily Press shortly after the initial copies had hit the newsstands.
Guests at an informal launch at Audmoor House, March, expressed delight at the first daily Fen edition - and were promised this is only the beginning.
Nigel Pickover, editor-in-chief of the Archant Norfolk daily, told guests: “This is a big investment into Fenland - be under no illusions about that.”
He said the Fenland edition of the country’s largest selling regional daily paper completed a massive overhaul of editions since he took over last year and brought the total daily editions up to six.
“We are very proud of our product, and very proud of Fenland,” he said. “Some have got the impression the EDP may have left communities but we didn’t and we haven’t. I must emphasis, too, this is not going to be a Norwich paper foisted on Fenland – it is going to be a Fenland paper for Fenland people.”
He said the EDP would campaign, where needed, against bureaucracy and be a champion for the people.
Mr Pickover was asked if there was room for a new paper, particularly one that had a cover price.
“To get our stories is an expensive business,” he said. “We have offices throughout the region – and you have to pay to get a newspaper of quality.”
He could understand some people’s reluctance to see the market for a new paper, and he said he appreciated their view.
“But I think when they see it and read it, they will realise just how committed we are and what the EDP can offer,” he said.
MP Steve Barclay attended the launch and said he welcomed the Fenland edition. “It will be a regular read and I am delighted to support this investment into area,” he said.
Councillor Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, said: “It’s a great product and your first edition has set the benchmark. It’s fantastic and very welcome.”
Cllr Melton added: “I’m a regular supporter of Peterborough United - and I and many others will welcome that fact you had made coverage of Posh such a priority.”
John Elworthy, newly appointed community editor for the Fenland edition, spoke of the work behind the scenes to get the new edition off the ground and of the realisation of a long-held ambition to see the EDP return to the Fens.
“It doesn’t mean Archant is neglecting its weekly titles – far from it. But this provides another platform for our pool of talented journalists and shows most of all the commitment that our parent company Archant has to local newspapers,” he said.
“It’s a very proud day for me but also a very proud day for local journalism.”
Pictured above is EDP editor Nigel Pickover with the new Fens edition of the paper.
© Archant Ltd 2013