THE new chairman of the E&L Advertiser has welcomed a new dawn at the paper as he hopes to entice new readers and encourage growth.
John Hammond, whose background lies in business, took over from fellow business entrepreneur, David Stevenson about a month ago after David made the decision to step back from the role and focus on other things.
Originally from down south, John first visited Langholm in 1972 setting up Border Fine Arts in 1974 and resettling here in 1976.
While he no longer owns BFA, he is a shareholder of Dartington Crystal, which he used to own, as well as being a chairman of Gretna Green Ltd, plus there is still much interest in the community as he is the chairman of the Langholm Community Centre and Day Centre.
“I want to keep the paper running for the community it was made for, it’s very important to everyone here and to have it running since 1848 is a fantastic feat despite challenges,” he said.
“Those challenges include the last year, it includes our takeover of it from Cumberland News, the last has been extremely tough, what with the almost complete absence of advertising revenue and a year of no events, plus there’s ever increasing costs to keep it going.
“But it’s about being optimistic and looking at ways to develop and adapt as a business.”
He said there would be an opportunity for somebody to work for the paper and sell advertising on commission, meaning not only would it help the community paper but it would also put money back into the community.
He had many more ideas on how to grow the E&L, including evolving the paper’s engagement with technology, in social media, and even widening its circulation.
“We’ve got to get better,” he added.
“There are so many people who want easier access to their news, that includes those looking online and those further afield.
“It would be great to get as many people interested in our valleys as possible and that’s the challenge, we want people to sit up and take notice of what’s around them and what’s here – it’s such a beautiful place and there’s plenty going on, we must get more people interested.”
John is not new to the paper as he first got involved in the Community Interest Company when the E&L Advertiser separated from the Cumberland News.
He believes that between himself, the new community editor of the paper, Danielle Kenneally, and the all the team involved with the paper, there is so much more that can be offered and achieving greater reach by way of this, is within the paper’s grasp.
“We’re a great paper and David has done a fantastic job, now a new era has dawned with myself and with our new editor on board I think it’s going to be even more exciting,” he said.
“Scotland will be getting back to normal, so that’s something to look forward to and the paper must rise to that challenge.
“We need the community to support us though, so that we can support them, these are important times that we have ahead of us, and between us and the community we need to stick together to ensure quality local news is still printed for future generations to come.”