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Local World axes 25 freelancers from hyperlocal network to make way for user-generated content

By Ellie Chambers

Local World has terminated the contracts of 25 freelance journalists who had been running its hyperlocal sites.

The decision to end the contracts comes as part of the regional newspaper publisher’s move to user-generated content for the sites.

A spokesperson for Local World said: “25 people are affected and they were contracted not permanent staff.

“Local World is grateful for their work in establishing the service but it has now reached a stage where it has sufficient users to sustain itself, which was always the plan.”

The Local World hyperlocal sites are a group of around 100 portals for local and community news in small areas. The 25 contractors were each running a group of these sites before the latest restructure.

The news comes less than a month after Local World’s Chairman, David Montgomery, caused a stir among journalists by predicting that “in three or four years from now, much of our human interface will have disappeared”.

However, Local World chief executive Steve Auckland told Press Gazette that the group would continue to employ journalists.

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Speaking on 22 May, the day after Montgomery’s comments, Auckland said: “We are not doing away with journalists, that’s not what we are about.

“What we want is a 20-fold increase in content on our sites. If we are we going to do that we can’t do it by increasing the number of editorial staff, what we have to do is get lots more user-generated content.

“Will the human interface disappear? It won’t. In five or ten years time we will have editorial people reporting on things.”

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