Reach has hired a number of new journalists as it prepares to extend its online coverage across Yorkshire, part of a major digital expansion at the news publisher.
A team of 12 editorial staff has been put together, with five poached from rival publishers and others moving across from Hull Live in East Yorkshire, which is also owned by Reach.
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It comes ahead of the launch of Yorkshire Live on 2 March, one of seven new regional websites planned for the north of England in a “significant expansion” of Reach’s digital network announced last year.
Chris Sherrard has been brought in as launch editor of Yorkshire Live, while Huddersfield Examiner editor Wayne Ankers will serve as its head of news.
Sherrard is also Reach’s digital editor-in-chief for the north of England and launched the Irish Mirror website in 2013 and Belfast Live, Reach’s first news website under its “Live” brand, the following year.
Reach already employs six journalists at Leeds Live, which it launched three years ago, and 12 at the Huddersfield Examiner, which publishes at Examiner Live online.
It is now expanding beyond its Leeds and Huddersfield bases into Sheffield, Bradford and North Yorkshire – and plans to increase its coverage of West Yorkshire.
The move sees Reach directly challenge rival publishers JPI Media, which owns the Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post, Sheffield Star and Sunderland Echo, and Newsquest, which owns the Northern Echo, Durham Advertiser and Bolton News.
Former Yorkshire Post chief reporter Paul Whitehouse is among the new hires, with football writers Dominic Howson and Ricky Charlesworth having been poached from the Sheffield Star.
Both titles are owned by JPI Media (formerly Johnston press).
Reach’s editor-in-chief for Yorkshire, Humber and Lincolnshire, Neil Hodgkinson, described the launch of Yorkshire Live as “extra special”.
He said: “This is an exciting time for journalism in Yorkshire. Three new websites, 12 new journalists, a new office in Sheffield and more resources in Leeds. That sort of positive investment does not happen very often.
“It is always special to be involved in launches and it is extra special when it happens in God’s Own Country. Yorkshire Live is the biggest of the Reach Live projects and the team led by Chris is determined to deliver great news and sports stories from all corners of the county. “
“They are loving the experience and the enthusiasm and talent already being demonstrated augurs well for the future. This will be fun.”
New “Live” launches are planned in County Durham, Sunderland, Newport, North Derbyshire, North Nottinghamshire, Bolton, Exeter, Torbay and Truro.
David Higgerson, Reach’s chief audience officer, said: “We launched into Leeds three years ago and the team have shown we can build a loyal audience by doing local journalism differently, as we already were doing in Huddersfield.
“The launch of Yorkshire Live is really exciting, and we’re delighted to be able to add so many extra journalists to an already strong team in Yorkshire.”