Sir Ray Tindle Backs Local Press

Sir Ray has voiced his firm belief in the future of local press, recounting his seven decades in local news during which he built a local newspaper business of 185 titles starting with just £300 demob money.

In a feature for PJ this month, Sir Ray writes a first person account of his career in local news which includes highlights such as launching 10 enterprise centres aimed at reducing unemployment with the personal support of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  

Sir Ray writes: “We’ve had a few rough periods in our lifetime, including the arrival of local commercial radio, followed by local commercial television and then, the most effective competition of all, hundreds of free newspapers from the 1970s and 1980s onwards.

“But our highest circulation and our best profits in my lifetime were made when all these new competitors were hammering away at us together – throughout the 1990s and until the recession, which came in 2007/2008.

Sir Ray, who served on the board of the Guardian for 17 years, recalls launching a daily newspaper on the second day of the voyage of troopship bound for the Far East having joined the wartime army in 1944, interviewing troops aboard and writing up stories.

Sir Ray bought the Tooting Gazette for £250 during the 1960s and focussed the coverage on the local area, with a resulting lift in circulation and ad revenues, before going on to acquire other titles and build the business.

Sir Ray adds: “There may be rough times ahead but never doubt that all the press, including the local press, will live forever.”

“This  industry of ours is full of myths and there are many people ready to run it down. In my first newspaper I learned several important lessons about the need for the existence of papers and some of the reasons why a few did not succeed.

“The long history of local papers helps to show why I am convinced they will live forever.”