Trinity Mirror’s regional web sites are to be relaunched to stress their association with strong regional newspaper brands rather than the “ic” Network of local web sites.
The Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough and the Reading Chronicle have already launched new sites, and all of Trinity Mirror's metropolitan regionals are to make the same move by the end of the year.
"Trinity Mirror owns some of the strongest print brands in the newspaper market in the regional press and we need to make sure that we're making full use of those brands online, so to do that we're launching newspaper companion sites that are strongly complimentary to our print titles," said David Black, Trinity Mirror's director of digital media for regionals.
Trinity Mirror claims 2 million unique users per month across the ic Network of regional web sites, which Black says will remain in place.
"We'll retain the audience that we have on the ic sites, but over time the focus will increasingly switch to our new print-branded newspaper companion sites," he said.
The new newspaper-branded sites will feature increased use of video news, blogs, and podcasts. They will be controlled directly from regional newspapers' newsrooms, with local editors deciding the best strategy for breaking stories online, including whether to break stories onlineor in print.
In Liverpool, the Echo and the Daily Post will launch separate companion web sites towards the end of September. Currently, content from both papers is currently pooled to icLiverpool, which bears little resemblance to the print titles. The new sites will feature design more closely linked to the print title's branding, and both will be distinct sections within the existing icLiverpool site.
"It gives a great sense of ownership to the entire editorial team working for a particular print title," said Steve Harrison, regional content manager for Trinity Mirror northwest, which includes Liverpool.
Harrison said: "I think there's a realisation that commercially we can do more with the web site. The web sites have had strong and sustained growth in both audience and revenue and generally while of course newspaper circulation isn't going in that direction, so we think there's a lot more value in the audience and the market that the web site can reach."