JPI Media has revealed plans to expand into seven major UK cities, plus Wales, as it hopes to become a “truly national network of local news brands” under new owner David Montgomery.
It said the websites would be “video-led” in partnership with Local TV, where Montgomery is also chairman, which will deploy eight TV video journalists to support JPI’s teams in each market.
Websites in Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow will go live on 12 August while further news sites in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Wales will follow.
Reach has a major online presence in each of these locations with Newsquest also a big player in Glasgow and Wales where it launched its own online national news service earlier this year.
Montgomery, whose National World company bought JPI Media at the start of this year, said: “We have the talent and resources to be a truly national network of local news brands. JPI Media is at last throwing off the shackles of its geographical limitations to enter major UK communities that are underserved in serious local journalism.”
JPI said 45 new roles will be created to staff the new websites, with 32 content roles, eight in commercial and several in marketing support.
The new websites, combined with JPI’s newspaper brands, will give the publisher access to 80% of the UK market, it added.
Other regional launches are expected under JPI’s existing regional divisions in the model of Lincolnshire World.
The expansion is in pursuit of National World’s goal to double its online audience by the end of 2022.
The company said the expansion, utilising its existing infrastructure and central teams, represented an “exciting new and transformational opportunity for JPI to grow its UK-wide audience footprint and share of local, regional and national digital advertising”.
Montgomery said the package JPI and Local TV will be able to offer national and local advertisers across print, online, video and broadcast TV was “long overdue” in UK media.
Local TV has a broadcast channel in six of the cities JPI is entering, plus Leeds where JPI’s flagship newspaper Yorkshire Post is based.
JPI’s group editor Mark Thompson will lead the new division. The editors for each site have been appointed:
- Manchester: Jenny Simpson, former Lancashire Post content editor
- Glasgow: Ros Erskine, digital journalist at The Scotsman
- Newcastle: Laura Hill, head of live news at JPI Media North East
- Liverpool: Dominic Raynor, former Liverpool FC journalist
- Birmingham: Fionnuala Bourke, commercial audience editor at Reach
- London: Ralph Blackburn, Triangle News agency’s chief reporter
- Bristol: Alex Ross, content editor at Reach’s Bristol Live
The editor for Wales will be announced in the coming weeks.
Reach and Newsquest have both been hiring in recent months, with 50 digital journalist jobs on offer at Newsquest following the success of its online subscriptions experiments and 76 sports jobs and 28 roles in Scotland among the major investment at Reach.
Noteworthy online incumbents in each of JPI’s new markets include:
- Manchester: Reach’s Manchester Evening News
- Glasgow: Reach’s Glasgow Live, Newsquest’s Glasgow Times
- Newcastle: Reach’s Chronicle Live
- Liverpool: Reach’s Liverpool Echo
- Birmingham: Reach’s Birmingham Live
- London: Reach’s My London, the Evening Standard
- Bristol: Reach’s Bristol Live
- Wales: Reach’s Wales Online and North Wales Live, Newsquest’s The National
Picture: Reuters/Morten Holm/ Scanpix