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The owner of a Lichfield newspaper has confirmed it will not return after pausing publication earlier this year.

The Lichfield Mercury, which has been publishing for 205 years, has been axed along with three other weekly newspapers, including the Sutton Coldfield Observer, by owner Reach PLC.

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It comes after plans were announced to cut 550 staff with the company suffering a loss of advertising revenues due to the coronavirus crisis.

A spokesperson for Reach told Hold The Front Page,

The free model was already challenged before COVID and it would be uneconomic to resume publication of four of the titles we suspended in April

Reach PLC spokesperson

News of the closure, which leaves the area without a local paper, will disappoint locals who started a petition calling for the Mercury to return as a paid weekly title, similar to sister publication Tamworth Herald.

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33 Comments

  1. Please do not stop publishing the Mercury I am in my Seventies and all of my family have grown up with the Mercury. I am sure the population of Lichfield have rather pay than lose it.

  2. That’s really disappointing. I’ve read the Mercury pretty much every week for the last 30 years or so. It’s sad to see it go but hopefully there will be more online publications to cover news in the area.

  3. Almost inevitable that it would close given the circumstances, the lack of advertising and above all the inept handling by Reach. But still a truly miserable day for local newspapers and journalism that such a historic title is lost forever.

    We can count ourselves lucky that we have a quality, professional and independent site like LichfieldLive to keep us informed and more importantly to shine a light on what is happening in the council etc. Hopefully, this site is on firmer foundations – even if some councillors want it stopped (no, Cllr Wilcox, some of us haven’t forgotten about that!).

  4. I cannot believe it is not possible to run a weekly news sheet for Lichfield except it does not fit into the economic model of the owners ‘Reach’ who strangely are saying Covid has killed these titles. They aren’t making enough for them and they want to focus on their big titles shame they ever took them over in the first place. The rest may well fall soon! Glad to see the chief execs have taken a massive pay cut – really?

  5. Thank goodness for Lichfield Live. The Lichfield Mercury ceased reporting local news and events years ago…so not that much of a loss in reality. I know printed papers are struggling, but it is a sad loss to the area. The main reason I looked at it in recent years was to see who had sadly left us – is there anywhere to notify the community of local deaths etc: do we need a facebook page for that now?

  6. That is so sad – the Lichfield Mercury has been part of my life since 1970. It isn’t delivered free to where I live, so I’ve been paying for it for years, and would happily carry on!

  7. Noticed that a relative in Burntwood was getting the Cannock Chronicle. I’ve not received a free paper for over a year in my part of Burntwood.

    The Chronicle is nothing more than a pamphlet with bits of Express and Star in it, so doubt you’ll get even that soon.

  8. What will happen to the archives of the Lichfield Mercury? I presume it will be possible to search early editions on line. The Mercury is a source of our local history over the last 205 years and must not be lost

  9. Such a loss. I can’t believe our city won’t have a local newspaper. Sad times. Thank you Mercury for growing up with us all. Great job by local reporters. Shame on Reach.

  10. I think its a crying shame that the Mercury is closing after such a long. Alot of business have been affected by covid-19 but if there’s a way out people need to try. When the Mercury started 205 years ago i can’t imagine what would have gone in it to keep it going. Now in 2020 there is so much to talk about. Maybe it needs to take a different approach to keep up to date with the current climate. But i think it’ll a very sad day when it finishes.

  11. oh no no no no no i grew up with this paper im 65 and live on isle of wight now but buy paper when we come back for visit please please save LICHFIELDS OLDEST PUBLICATIONS FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS lyndy

  12. After years of advertising in the Sutton observer for my small removal business in Sutton Coldfield .I’m not surprised this has happened .they really haven’t kept up with times .large areas of Sutton and surrounding areas haven’t had the paper delivered for many years .not good when you’re paying quite a lot per month

  13. The council are worried about Lichfield Live and its reporting. Worried about their reputation.

    The Mercury is closing.

    Maybe the council will take the Mercury over. Then, they can push their point of view.

  14. Sad I have read it for sixty-five years, since I was 11. Lately, it has been a shadow of its former self – perhaps a deliberate run-down tactic? – having dropped most small-ads and all reference to Council affairs. Nevertheless, a bad day for the Lichfield area.

  15. Honestly, I’m conflicted.

    Yep – the loss of any local paper is (in theory) a massive blow to any community.

    But did the Mercury of recent years really fulfil the mission of civic journalism? At best it held up a mirror to a portion of Lichfield society, I would guess heavily dependent on the press releases it received.

    The end of the Mercury at least opens up an opportunity for someone – maybe Lichfield Live? – to pick up the thought leadership role that notionally fell to the Mercury, even if it declined to play it?

  16. As predicted when it went into lockdown. As a news medium it was a very worthwhile paper. Easier to negotiate than an I pad or smart phone and with photographs. It also had more in depth coverage of local issues, although of recent years the publishers were economising on this.
    As an advertising supported freebie it was always vulnerable. When property sales became more immediate on the internet it led to a great loss of revenue. Many local news weekleys have suffered the same fate.
    Reliable news is the foundation of democracy and accountability. The Mercury gave us that way back to the Napoleonic Wars. While Lichfield Live will help fill the gap it has limitations of a different sort. It is a bad day for Lichfield and the surrounding area now that there is no watchdog in print.

  17. The irony of you bemoaning the efforts of a digital news provider on their own platform won’t be lost on many, particularly given you seem to love the sound of your own typed voice on here.

    Judging by your views, it seems the Mercury may have covered your own efforts in the Napoleonic Wars!!! The truth is that Lichfield Live has been doing more for local news than the Mercury for a number of years. I’d rather support them and the fact they do this as volunteers than long for the return of a publication that long ceased to be a document of public record for Lichfield.

  18. Lichfield Live does a far better job of reporting local issues than the Mercury has done in recent years.
    It is a sad day though, our exam results were published in the Mercury, I had photos in it as a kid, dressed variously as a Maori, a witch, stood with the Wombles in the precinct! When the Queen came in 79 loads of us little kids were pictured waving.
    We really need to have access to the archive and can someone please address that?
    It is sad, but I’m more nostalgic rather than concerned about current reporting, Lichfield Live is much, much better at that. I hope they get the support they deserve.

  19. Wilf…. You are obviously not aware that Lichfield Live has changed its status in recent months. It is no longer a voluntary run organisation. None the worse for that and I have been at great pains to acknowledge what they archive. I feel sure their shoulders are broad enough to accommodate the odd irony.
    If you mean that I am prepaired to express opinions (like many others on here) well I won’t apologise for that. This site is not Twitter or Facebook, it has far greater gravity than that. Some actually contribute postings with meaningful content or anecdote. Others content themselves with just bitter criticism. Incidentally, having spent my working life in the Print Industry, I do regret the demise of many of the local newspapers which served local communities over many lifetimes.

  20. Philip, just to clarify one point in your comment, the status of Lichfield Live has made no difference to the status of any of us as volunteers. In all the years of LL I have never taken any financial payment from the site and don’t see that changing any time soon. The change in status is more to do with helping us to ensure sustainability of service (server costs etc) and effectively become not for loss.

  21. Thank you Ross for an explanation. The fact you are all volunteers and make no money is even more reason to cheer for Lichfield Live’s survival in my view.
    Having been a long-time Mercury reader, the decline in standards over the years was so alarming in that newspaper. But having started to read this site regularly since the Mercury first closed I feel far more aware of what is happening locally than when I read the Mercury. I do “lament” the demise of the Mercury along with so many others. But I am also grateful that in its place we have a far more interesting and enlightening “online” newspaper.
    I believe that Lichfield Live fills a very important gap in local news that actually the Mercury was not filling for the last few years anyway. That isn’t a slight on the staff, but the fact that there was no love or investment for the newspaper from the people who actually owned it.

  22. Philip – there is a big difference between the Mercury as it was and Lichfield Live…and not just the fact that this site offers far more local journalism and investigative reporting than the Mercury managed in the last 5 years or more!
    The clue is here – https://lichfieldlive.co.uk/about/

    It is a Community Interest Community – definition: “A community interest company (or CIC) is a special form of non-charitable limited company, which exists primarily to benefit a community or with a view to pursuing a social purpose, rather than to make a profit for shareholders.”

    To me that is far more interesting and potentially great for Lichfield – no affiliations, no agenda, no bias, just independent and professional journalism that we have already seen on numerous occasions from Lichfield Live. The Mercury has played catch up on the bigger stories affecting Lichfield in recent years, following where Lichfield Live was blazing a trail.

    The Mercury’s demise is untimely and has undoubtedly enjoted a rich and illustrious history. But it had become a pale imitation of a local newspaper and Lichfield Live has not only taken up that mantle but further developed it in a way of lot of traditional print media have still not managed to come to terms with.

  23. Hi Barry, thanks for your kind words. I too feel for the Mercury staff who no doubt would love nothing more than a thriving publication covering local issues. I’ve seen first hand their efforts to keep flying the local flag as part of an organisation moving towards centralisation. But a background in local media (Lichfield Post alumni here) means I’m all too aware of the challenges and pressures now facing local reporters. It’s one of the reasons why I and the rest of the team are so determined to make LL a success. A city needs strong local media. We may not always get things right or have the funds to do some of the things we want to, but doing something is better than doing nothing – and I’m proud to have been able to to do something for more than 13 years (although given I’m currently writing stories from my holiday, my wife and kids might disagree!).

  24. Since being taken over by Reach there has been virtually no Lichfield news anyway. Most of the content (apart from the Housing Section, showing desirable properties in Essex, South Wales, Northumberland amd other local areas) has been reports submitted by members of various local organisations to which a so-called “reporter” has added his name. It is dead already – just give it a decent burial.

  25. Reach plc and it’s predecessor Northcliffe Newspapers never quite grasped the concept of local newspapers, nor understood that you cannot really compile any meaningful amount of local news without local reporters. Both companies cut, centralised, cut and centralised again. The coronavirus pandemic just gave a convenient final excuse to abandon all pretext of serving the Lichfield district. Contrary to official statements from Reach, do not bother attempting to search for Lichfield news on its Birmingham or Staffordshire websites, as you will be wasting your time. Stick with the commendable and well-written LichfieldLive which has, for some time now, been far and away the most likely place to find the news and information the district deserves. My sympathies go to any remaining staff at Reach plc who were trying their hardest to serve Lichfield and Sutton, under impossibly under-resourced circumstances.

  26. Very sad that what used to be a fabulous newspaper with such information each week accidents, court cases, any little snippets of news. Even results of Wintertons sales, you could find everything. They had local reporters and excellent photographers, I have got many a photo from when the paper was in Market Street, then Bird Street.
    We paid for the paper and that was the difference as soon as it became a free paper there was no news and all adverts.
    We always turned to the arrivals and dispatches first, as the reports were always so full.
    When Alan Williamson first joined the paper my Mother was one of his first features as we grew a lot of grapes which were sold through Lloyd William’s but Alan in his own comic way had Mum treading the grapes in a very large stone pancheon to show we were also making wine.
    I visited Plas Newed last year and in the reading room cum library there laid out on the desk was the very first edition of Lichfield Mercury, easy to read the first page and it contained many features and adverts by well known local businesses like Wintertons, I was thrilled to bits to see this.

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