Buyer found for APN's low-coverage titles
APN has sold its four Wellington titles to the owner of the Blenheim Sun, a twice-weekly community paper.
Les Whiteside bought the Independent Herald, Cook Strait News, Porirua News and Wainuiomata News, which will trade under the name Capital Community Newspapers.
Nielsen readership figures for 2012 show in the Wellington region the Independent Herald has 6.5% coverage, Porirua News has 7.6% coverage and Wainuiomata News 3.9%.
In a statement released today, Mr Whiteside says most of the 15 staff will be kept.
APN has decided to keep the Kapiti News in Paraparaumu and join the weekly paper with The Chronicle (Levin), The Guardian (Palmerston North) and Stratford Press.
These titles will form a group attached to the Wanganui Chronicle.
The Wellington titles were offered for sale late last year by APN, which is also trying to sell its South Island newspapers The Star, Christchurch, and Oamaru Mail.
Who is Les Whiteside?
Considered a successful small fish in the feel-good give-away community newspaper market, Mr Whiteside - who works in partnership with his wife Katrina - left Hagley High School, in Christchurch, with a 6th Form certificate in 1972.
Like many of his era he went straight to work and quickly carved a reputation for himself selling advertising on the Christchurch Star.
He bought the Leeston-based weekly Central Canterbury News in the 1980s, before extending his rural reach by establishing the Northern Outlook in Rangiora.
Mr Whiteside rejected an offer for the Central Canterbury News in 1986 before facing competition from a rival paper - The Plains Express - which set up across the street.
A lively editorial and advertising war ensued before Mr Whiteside moved his publishing base out of Leeston and into the Christchurch suburb of Hornby.
(While editorially popular, The Plains Express did not attract sufficient advertising, failed after ten years and closed its doors in October 1997).
Over 14 years Mr Whiteside's Northern Outlook grew into a substantial community paper before he sold up and moved to Blenheim where he launched the now twice-weekly giveaway Blenheim Sun in 2002.
He has held various positions in the Community Newspapers Association.
A year ago the 146-year old Marlborough Express - a rival to the Sun - recorded how Les and Kagtrina Whiteside were showing confidence in the local economy by taking on staff and publishing a second weekly edition.
Always a numbers man, the Fairfax-owned Marlborough Express took Mr Whiteside to task for comparing the Sun's circulation of 18,701 with the Express circulation of 8077.
The Marlborough Express pointed out its 8077 was paid daily circulation, against his free-to-every-letterbox.
The paper went further, ticking off Mr Whiteside for not comparing the Sun with the Express's free paper delivery of 17,844 midweek and 18,315 on Saturday - but not to folk who asked them not to.
Disclaimer: Jock Anderson worked briefly for Mr Whiteside before launching The Plains Express.