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March 28, 2024

Reach plans to move 300 journalists into central traffic-driving content hub

The proposed hub will end duplication as multiple journalists at different Reach websites currently write about the same trending topics.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Reach is planning to create a central team of journalists to produce traffic-driving content for use across multiple of its national and regional websites.

The proposal, presented by chief digital publisher David Higgerson to all editorial staff on Tuesday, will see around 300 journalists from the company’s total of about 2,000 editorial staff moved into the new Reach Content Hub.

The hub will aim to reduce multiple journalists writing similar stories on topic verticals such as trends, wellbeing, screen time and money, Press Gazette understands.

For example currently numerous journalists may cover the same TV show. Under the new proposal one reporter in the content hub could do so and rewrite their story for several Reach websites deemed the most appropriate.

Press Gazette understands that Jon Livesey, currently head of sport for the Mirror, Express and Star, will lead the content hub. Manchester Evening News editor Sarah Lester and Daily Mirror associate editor Jane Lavender are also expected to play key roles.

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Staff were told the hub plan, which is expected to gradually roll out from May, is not about cutting costs.

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Higgerson said: “This is all about how we allocate our resources. We benefit from a large pool of editorial talent and we believe our size is right. Now we have the chance to create a team to build on the kind of large-scale engagement we excel at, while also making space for our brands’ teams to focus more tightly on content for their audiences, whether political opinion or exclusive local news.

“The last time we undertook a similar reshaping of this scale was over ten years ago when many of our regional titles moved to digital-first. This changed the game for us then and led us to the dominant online reach we still have today – it’s exciting that the opportunity is once again all to play for.”

Page view targets on individual brands will be adjusted as the central team will have its own targets, meaning regional sites for example are not disadvantaged by no longer producing this popular but, at times, less relevant content.

The proposal follows soon after the announcement of a centralised video and audio team across Reach made up of 120 people creating both editorial and commercial content.

Reach is also rolling out an AI tool called Guten to speed up the rewriting process when journalists want to pick up a story from a sister website but not risk the negative impact in Google of running a straight duplication. Guten may similarly be able to help journalists in the hub rewrite their stories for several different websites.

In November Reach announced plans to cut 450 jobs, of which around 320 were in editorial, taking its total redundancies across 2023 above 700. The aim is that the latest round of cuts, which included the closure of 13 of Reach’s smaller local news websites, will be the last for the foreseeable future.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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