Still “less than the price of a Mars bar,” but The Northern Echo is to increase its cover price by 15p on weekdays and 10p on Saturdays.

Editor, Peter Barron has also announced that it is to split the Teesside and North Yorkshire edition in two and increase the number of pages.

It’s the latest in a line of Newsquest titles to announce an increase in cover price and just like Bury Times editor-in-chief, Ian Savage, Barron blamed the fall in traditional advertising:

“The choice is therefore this: ask readers to pay more, ask advertisers to pay more, or cut costs. In the current economic climate, asking advertisers to pay more is not tenable and cutting costs, beyond cuts made in recent years, will undermine our editorial service across the North-East and North Yorkshire.

“The decision has, therefore, been taken to increase the price of the paper to 65p Monday to Friday and 90p on a Saturday. In total, that is 85p more per week and it is important to keep it in perspective. A Mars Bar costs more than a newspaper and a whole week of The Northern Echo is no more expensive than a pint of beer. It comes down to what value is placed on a local newspaper which employs journalists to cover local news, which understands what’s important to local communities, and which fights local campaigns.

“If the price rise is the bad news, the good news is that there will be significant investment in The Northern Echo to make it an even better newspaper, with more comprehensive coverage of news and sport.”

The newspaper will increase in size by an average of 8 pages per day – five pages will now be devoted to national news and an additional two to national sports stories, while there will also be a change in the way stories are distributed across the now 5 editions of the newspaper.

“One of the toughest challenges in editing a regional newspaper is working out how to satisfy the “local” needs of readers across such a wide geographical area. The Northern Echo is a complicated beast and, at the moment, we carve up our stories into four editions which are sold in different parts of the region – Teesside & North Yorkshire, Durham, South Durham and Darlington,” wrote Barron in his editor’s blog.

“This means some stories only appear in one edition. However, I often receive complaints that readers who get one edition are also interested in news from other editions. Indeed, we have one village – Barton, near Scotch Corner – where readers demand three different editions.”

From now on all news from across the Northern Echo’s region will go into every edition, although stories local to a particular area will be given more prominence.

Barron also revealed that they were to split the North Yorkshire and Teesside edition into 2 separate papers.