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July 5, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:25am

Reach to recruit 76 sports journalists with pledge for more non-football coverage and appeal for diverse voices

By Charlotte Tobitt

Reach has revealed plans to hire 76 sports journalists this summer and is hoping to hire some “new, exciting” voices who may not “fit the traditional mould”.

Reach, the UK’s largest commercial publisher and biggest online sports publisher according to Comscore figures, said the jobs would enable more in-depth coverage of some of the UK’s biggest football clubs.

It said it would build on the success of the Blood Red podcast run by the Liverpool Echo and the dedicated Liverpool FC website to open further standalone fan sites.

It also plans to dedicate more coverage to sports outside football. In February Reach hired its first Rugby League live editor, with the aim to become the best destination for rugby league fans with content they would be unable to access elsewhere.

Last summer there was a net loss of 29 sports roles across the country as a single team was created across all Reach’s digital and print titles, both national and regional.

The new roles span across Reach’s national and regional network, on brands including the Mirror, Express, Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo.

The jobs include social media editors, trends writers, content editors, boxing, UFC and MMA writers, and fan brand editors for clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

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Several roles are listed as fixed-term opportunities with six-month contracts.

Jon Birchall, Reach’s audience and content director for sport, said: “We’re so proud of what the team has achieved this year.  Now we want to bring more views, a wider range of expertise and more round the clock coverage on both our national and regional brands.

“Our ambition is to not only continue to serve our readers, viewers and listeners but also attract new fans and communities.

“We can only do this with a diverse team and encourage applications from people with a love of sport, even if they think they don’t fit the traditional mould. We can’t wait to hear from new, exciting voices in the industry.”

[Read more: Reach creates first standalone training scheme to improve diversity of its newsrooms]

For some of the job roles Reach told potential candidates they would help to implement its customer value strategy, which is aiming to build digital revenues, plus loyalty and engagement, by signing up 10m registered users by the end of 2022. In March 5.8m users had signed up – more than 10% of its digital users.

The expansion will allow more focus on the strategy in sports outside football, engaging and retaining new users.

At the time of the job losses last summer Reach told staff: “We are the largest sports publishers in the UK – but competition is fierce, with companies who don’t invest in attending games and being local often taking audience on the back of our effort.

“We need to reduce duplication and focus on content which is distinct and original. We need to create a team which can move around the network as and when audience demand spikes, and create spikes in audience demand.”

Reach is currently investing in many of its digital teams, with evening/overnight reporter and content editor roles, and journalist roles for sites like Bristol Live, My London, Devon Live and Cornwall Live currently available.

In April it announced plans to cover every county in England and Wales in print or digital by the end of the year.

On Friday Reach announced it is investing in reporters on the ground in Northern Ireland to cover breaking news, local features and what’s on for three new sub-brands at Belfast Live: MyDerry, MyFermanagh and MyTyrone.

The brands will exist on the Belfast Live website and have their own social channels.

Belfast Live editor Ryan Smith said: “In just six years, Belfast Live has grown to be the most-read commercial news publisher in Northern Ireland and this is part of our plans to extend our reach at a local level in areas across the country.

“It’s no secret the challenges that regional media has faced in the last decade but to be able to invest in journalism locally in Northern Ireland is a real vote of confidence in what we’re trying to do.

“The reaction to the ‘My’ county launches from new and existing readers has been overwhelmingly positive with thousands following our new social channels in just 24 hours and we’re very excited about where we can take these brands.”

Picture: Pool via Reuters/Alberto Pizzoli

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