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Local newspaper launched after closure of town's only free title

The Harlow Guardian will cost 70 pence. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A local newspaper has launched in Harlow after the closure of all three of the town’s previous titles.

The long-running Harlow Star was the last to go out of print, leaving Harlow without a local newspaper.

Now the new Harlow Guardian is hoping it can survive in a turbulent time for print journalism.

  • Click below for Hannah Pettifer’s report
  • 10 years ago Harlow had three local newspapers
  • Nationally, 300 local papers have closed in a decade
  • The number of print journalists has dropped by 6,000

At Harlow College journalism students are well aware of the changes to the news industry. But news that their local paper the Harlow Star has closed hasn't put them off a career in journalism.

Andrew Impey, a journalism student, said: "It was something I was aware of when I came into it, that the print journalism side of things is on the way down.

"But there are still exciting opportunities within journalism in the digital aspect.

"Someone's still got to do the job, hopefully I can be one of those people."

The town's last free paper had been running for more than 50 years. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Every year students from the college would do work experience at the Harlow Star, but now it's become the most recent victim in a long line of local papers to close.

According to the Cairncross report, published ahead of a government review into the sustainability of print journalism, more than 300 local papers have closed over the past decade and the number of print journalists has dropped by 6,000.

Lewis Heritage, Head of Journalism at Harlow College, said: “Unfortunately it's the way it's all going.

"We anticipated this change, we work with local editors, we've introduced new modules geared towards the digital side of industry.

"We want to make these students as employable as possible so we try to introduce more and more digital courses as time goes by."

Journalism students at Harlow College face an uncertain future. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Just 10 years ago there were three competing newspapers in Harlow.

The Harlow Star, a free paper, had been running for more than 50 years and was the last to close. Its owners blamed the "unsustainable" decline in advertising revenue.

Since then local MP Robert Halfon has been inundated with calls about its closure, mostly from the elderly and those with no access to the internet.

There was outcry when the last local paper closed in Harlow. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, said: ”What you're doing is disenfranchising people from their local news.

"It's been devastating, we've had residents ring my office here and in the house of commons asking us to send news bulletins or read the news to them because they feel so cut off."

Such was the outcry, last week the Harlow Guardian launched.

Milo Boyd, from the Harlow Guardian, said: “It's a big town and kind of crazy there isn't a paper here.

"It's been a quick turnaround, a month to set up, get our feet under the table, and replace what is an institution.

"Everyone we speak to read the Harlow Star, liked the Harlow Star, so we have a job making a name for ourselves I think."

Replacing a long-running free paper though, with one that will now be sold for 70 pence may be a challenge.

The first two weekly editions of the Harlow Guardian will be free, then the paper will face the real test of survival in a rapidly changing industry.

10 years ago there were three local papers in Harlow. Credit: ITV News Anglia