Sir Ray Tindle is the biggest champion and defender of the UK’s local press. Over a 68-year career he has built up his media empire Tindle Newspapers to become one of the biggest UK publishers in the UK. While commentators note the continuing decline of the industry, the 89-year old remains evangelical about the local press’ ability to both adapt and remain relevant in the digital age, writes Gorkana’s Ronan George.
Sir Ray, who was knighted in 1994 for services to the newspaper industry, launched his career at the end of the Second World War with £300 – the demob money he was given as he left the army. His first paper was the Tooting & Balham Gazette in South London, which he bought when it had a circulation of 700. Since then, Tindle Newspapers has gone on to build up a stable of titles across the UK with a total audited weekly circulation of over 1.4 million and a £50m annual turnover.
This month, Sir Ray hit the headlines with the announcement that he is giving ownership of several of his titles in London and Dorset to three of Tindle’s executives. However, any suggestion that he might now take a back seat is given short shrift by the man himself: “Retire?! I’m never going to retire. I can’t do that. It’s a lovely life.”
Sir Ray spoke to Gorkana about his unstinting belief in the local press, his approach and his prediction for the future of the sector ahead of his annual address, next week, to Tindle Newspapers’ employees in Taunton.
“A lot has been said about the local press in recent months which just isn’t the case,” Tindle maintains. “It’s been said that, ‘the last four months have been brutal for what remains of Britain’s local press, (and) that local papers’ primary task is to manage decline’. I am 100 per cent against both those statements.”
The journalistic strengths of good regional reporting endure, he believes. “I used to say all the time – ‘names, faces, places’ – that’s what we’re going for. For example, a (local) bazaar, you can’t see that covered on the internet or in a daily paper. We tell you who manned the stall, what they sold last time, what they sold this time. We have a picture with the local vicar or good ladies. We give details. Whilst we go on doing that, there will be no competition.”
Tindle’s confidence in the future of the industry is firm: “The local press has been going for 200 to 300 years. I am totally confident we will be here in (another) 100 years, and I’ll have a 10p bet I’ll be here too.”
Sir Ray Tindle – key facts and landmarks:
- Born in October 1926.
- Served in the Devonshire Regiment in the Far East during the Second World War.
- Bought the Tooting & Balham Gazette with his demob money, before going on to buy over 200 local newspapers including the South London Press, Yellow Advertiser Series and Enfield Gazette, through his Tindle Newspapers company.
- In 1972 moved into local radio with Guernsey’s Island FM, Channel 103 FM in Jersey and Midlands 103 in Ireland.
- Announces in January 2016 the sale of several of his titles in London and Dorset to three Tindle executives.