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December 5, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 7:12am

Reach to launch new London-wide news website to meet demand for ‘trusted’ local brand ‘with personality’

By Charlotte Tobitt

Mirror publisher Reach is set to launch a new London-wide news website, targeted at readers who live in the capital.

The publisher (formerly Trinity Mirror) is merging its Get West London and Croydon Advertiser websites to create, moving into north, east and south London territory for the first time.

Press Gazette understands the website is due to launch tomorrow morning with the tagline: “Best city ever.”

Users who visit Get West London and the Croydon Advertiser will be redirected to pages of the new website covering news in these areas.

The website will be led by long-term Croydon Advertiser editor Andy Worden, also now editor of Get West London, with a staff of around eight reporters based at Reach’s Canary Wharf headquarters.

The reporters, taken from the two existing websites and seconded and recruited from across Reach, have been split into three teams working on breaking news, search engine optimisation and evergreen content, and creative and original content.

Kent Live brands editor Luke Jacobs and Cambridgeshire Live editor-in-chief David Bartlett are among those helping with the launch, which was pushed back at least once this autumn but is now ready to go.

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Ceri Gould, editor-in-chief of Reach in the south east, said: “ will bring the best local journalism offers in the form of Reach’s successful Live website model.

“Based on an ‘I love London’ approach to living, working, commuting to, playing in the capital, is London for Londoners.”

Gould added that research undertaken by the company showed there is an appetite, particularly among 25 to 34-year-olds, for a “trusted, local London news brand with personality” where readers can expect more than just “the bare bones of what’s happening now”.

“They want to be informed, yes, but also entertained and moved,” she said.

“Importantly, they want a London that reflects the lives they are living, the commutes they are taking, the food they’re eating, the cliches they’re laughing at.

“My London is designed for those of us who live in London, who love London, who know what’s wrong with the capital but woe betide anyone else criticising the place.”

But, when the name change was announced on Get West London’s Facebook page this afternoon, not everyone responded positively.

One user said “Only follow because you’re my area. Don’t want to know about the rest of London”. Another added: “People want what’s relevant locally. London’s a big place! I’ll probably unfollow if I get too much junk.”

The change was also met with hostility by Croydon Advertiser readers, with one saying: “I wanted a Croydon specific news place. If you do all of London, Croydon news will just be buried.”

Another said: “It’s a terrible decision and one I fear you will regret, especially as Croydon is experiencing such a resurgence in the public eye. Croydon needs you and you need Croydon.”

New Facebook pages will be made for north, south, east and central London alongside the existing west London page, Reach has said.

Press Gazette understands the new website aims to rival the Evening Standard online, but reporters have raised concerns with editors about how they can do so with a fraction of the resources.

Concerns include photo coverage, with just two existing staff photographers covering Surrey and parts of Hampshire.

It is understood the company plans to recruit to a number of key positions, although the nature of these roles has not yet been confirmed.

Other concerns included that the Croydon Advertiser website would disappear as part of the process, just a year after its online archive was lost with the move to a new content management system (although a small number of stories were copied over to the new site by staff).

But Press Gazette understands all content currently available will still be accessible.

Reporters also raised concerns over the future quality of the Croydon Advertiser newspaper and print titles in west London – the Uxbridge Gazette, Ealing Gazette, and Chronicle & Informer in Hounslow.

They worried about losing their loyal west London and Croydon audiences if not enough content is produced in print as reporters are pushed to cover a wider geographical area.

The newsroom was split into separate print and digital teams earlier this year as part of Reach’s Live rollout.

Press Gazette understands the My London workflow for print and digital has already been in place for more than two months.

Reach first hinted at the plan for a London-wide news website in March in a memo to its London staff which said: “We have ambitious plans to serve local news to the whole of London.”

However the original plan to rebrand Get West London and the Croydon Advertiser as new West London and South London Live brands was abandoned for a broader approach taking in the whole city.

The last standalone website to try a similar approach was Archant’s London 24, which launched in 2010 and closed six years later.

The Get West London and Croydon Advertiser teams began working together more closely under one editor earlier this year.

The Croydon Advertiser was previously owned by Local World, and relocated with the Surrey Mirror from Redhill to Reach’s news hub in Guildford, Surrey to join Get West London and Get Surrey in 2017.

Reach has launched five new city websites in the past four years in Belfast, Leeds, Dublin, Glasgow and most recently Edinburgh. It also plans to launch a new county-wide website for Lancashire.

Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay

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