Regional publisher Archant is launching a major recruitment drive which will create about 70 new roles, including a dozen jobs for journalists.
Archant has said it is “putting our money where our mouth is” and aiming “to give local media a damn good kick up the backside”.
It is the latest regional publisher to announce a major round of job creation following furloughs and reduced headcounts in the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Press Gazette understands Archant more than broke even in the first quarter of 2021.
The journalist roles will include seven reporters and an editor in East Anglia, two magazine editors in London and Essex and editorial assistants in the South West and North of England.
This is on top of new editor roles for the Ipswich Star and Norwich Evening News, already announced.
[Read more: Archant CEO on mission to ‘save local journalism’]
Archant chief executive Lorna Willis (pictured), who joined the company as digital sales director in 2010, said: “Okay, it sounds like a cliché, but I want to meet more people who think differently. Who have fresh ideas and are brave enough to try things out.
“It’s how I climbed the ranks at Archant and I want my people to do the same. I utterly believe everyone should be their true self here and I want us to champion diversity. I won’t lie – it’s hard graft. Sometimes the days are long, but the satisfaction is immense.”
The editorial roles in East Anglia include a two new live reporter roles and a live lead as Archant builds a dedicated digital reporting team, which has been trialled for several weeks in London with “outstanding results” according to chief content officer Jeremy Clifford.
The model has now been extended to Norfolk and Suffolk – where Archant is about to have a new digital-only rival as Reach extends into its traditional territory for the first time.
Emily Hewett, Archant’s head of digital audience who is leading the initiative, said: “These are vital roles that will form the foundation of Archant’s digital growth as we look to provide our audiences with unrivalled coverage of the news that matters to them. These new jobs provide a fantastic opportunity for ambitious journalists looking to take the next step in their career and play a pivotal role in driving our editorial strategy.
“Our live reporters will be expert in digital journalism, understand how search works and will be first to publish. We have been working for some time to differentiate the reporting roles in our newsrooms, and this is the first stage in that process.”
The approximately 70 roles in total will be across the organisation, the fourth biggest regional news publisher in the UK, and will include media account managers, creative videographers, and web developers.
There is some overlap with 33 jobs previously reported by Press Gazette that are being created under a restructure to Archant’s magazine commercial department.
However Willis warned to expect redundancies in the coming months and years as she restructures the company into three divisions: local (news), magazines and agency.
“Of course there’s going be redundancies over the next few months and years, but not mass redundancies,” she told Press Gazette. “I don’t know where I’d take mass redundancies out. Of course I don’t want to lose people, but I think there will be people that just say: ‘This isn’t for me anymore.’”
Archant is joining a number of other regional publishers putting money back into jobs following a tough Covid-19 pandemic.
Newsquest announced last month it was creating 50 digital journalist jobs as its subscriptions success has led it to reinvest £1.5m per year in local journalism. It is also hiring 50 new digital sales consultants as it expands its digital marketing activities.
A month earlier Reach, the largest commercial publisher in the UK, said it was creating more than 50 journalism jobs to service its plan to cover the entirety of England and Wales for the first time by the end of 2021.
In total this will take the number of jobs created for Reach’s Live regional news network since the start of 2020 to 170 – although 550 jobs were lost across Reach in a restructure last summer.
JPI Media has also been reported to be creating ten digital journalism jobs for a new team of “search and trends writers”. Owner National World said on Tuesday they had begun investing in SEO expertise across the country.
Picture: Warren Page / Archant