Reach to have local news title covering every county in England and Wales by end of 2021

Reach pay cut

Reach has claimed its regional news titles in print and digital will cover the entirety of England and Wales for the first time by the end of 2021.

The publisher will this year launch online Live newsbrands in seven areas where it does not currently have a presence – Norfolk, Suffolk, Dorset, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire – joining 19 new sites that went live in 2020.

Darlington, North Devon, Weston-super-Mare and Rutland will also get new dedicated newsbrands. Some of these will be standalone websites and others will sit as new channels within existing sites.

The plans will involve a recruitment drive creating more than 50 journalism jobs, also boosting its existing city newsrooms including five new roles at My London further to 25 added in December.

In total this will take the number of jobs created for the Live regional news network since the start of 2020 to 170 – although 550 jobs were lost across Reach in a restructure last summer.

Reach said the plans for coverage of every county in England and Wales were “key” for its customer value strategy, launched just over a year ago with more than 6m registered customers already signed up since.

[Read more: Reach to ‘accelerate’ digital revenue with reader registrations as profits climb]

Reach editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley said: “Over the past 18 months, we’ve significantly ramped up the number of new sites we’ve launched as part of our Live network, many in areas where we don’t have established print titles.

“Thanks to our transformation of editorial operations last year and underpinned by our customer value strategy which ensures we build deeper relationships with our readers, we have created a sustainable model for digital-only local journalism.

“The reaction to 2020’s launches from new readers has been overwhelmingly positive, giving us the confidence to complete the whole map of England and Wales by the end of this year.

“This is incredibly exciting and further strengthens our position as the leading news publisher in the UK with an unparalleled ability to engage audiences through both our national and regional journalism.”

Reach cited Comscore data showing 72% of UK adults get local news from its brands, up from 67% last year.

It said 88% of adults who read local news spend time on its Live sites.

Reach launched 19 Live news websites in 2020, including Yorkshire Live whose initial team of 12 grew its audience to be above rivals at JPI Media Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post within six months (according to Reach’s own figures).

Reach ‘Live’ network expansion – timeline

December 2014

In a precursor to the “Live” era, Reach (then Trinity Mirror) launched the Get Reading website following the closure of three of its print publications in the Reading area with the loss of 17 editorial roles.

Get Reading was heralded as potentially creating “a new and different future for regional publishing”.

Many of the publisher’s other regional websites were given the “Get” branding before “Live” became the chosen moniker.

Get Reading was in January 2018 absorbed into the hyperlocal news aggregator In Your Area. Reach then launched Berkshire Live, which covers Reading, just over a year later.

February 2015

Belfast Live, the first of the standalone Live city websites, launched and gained an audience of more than 1m unique users within five months.

It was followed by Dublin Live and Glasgow Live in spring of the following year, both launching with a team of around ten staff. Leeds and Edinburgh came afterwards.

September 2017

The publisher announced it would separate the print and digital teams at the Birmingham Mail and create the Birmingham Live website.

This was the pilot for the new publishing model later implemented across the publisher’s newsrooms.

February 2018

The first of the rest of the newsroom restructures were announced, in locations such as Bath and Derbyshire, with the Live brand expand to create more online titles.

Around 50 mostly print-related jobs were lost and Burton Mail journalists urged the publisher to think again about the rebrand that would see parts of its patch from outside Derbyshire come under the county’s Live website, fearing this could alienate readers.

March 2018

One month later a further 49 roles were put at risk as newsrooms in the north east, Humber, south east and Devon and Cornwall regions were restructured to create separate print and online teams.

June 2018

Manchester Evening News and Huddersfield Daily Examiner became the latest to move to the “Live” model – although the MEN was not given the same rebrand. The Liverpool Echo is one of the only other titles to retain its historical name online due to the attached prestige.

December 2018

Reach launched the capital-wide My London website in the same model as the Live brands, merging the online presence of the Croydon Advertiser with Get West London in the process.

Summer 2019

The Birmingham Post website closed and was replaced by a standalone business news title, Business Live.

September 2019

Reach experimented with its first online micro-paywall on Examiner Live, the website of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

The trial lasted five months and reportedly proved a “large number” of readers are happy to pay for certain content (breaking news, traffic and travel and some crime stories remained free). Reach said it planned to try the model on more of its websites but has not yet done so.

2020

Reach launched 19 new Live websites in 2020 including in Yorkshire.

Loyal users who visited sites across the Live network every other day were up by more than 40% compared to 2019.

Summer 2020

Reach cut 550 jobs across its national and regional titles as part of a plan for deduplication and the creation of one editorial team and an internal news wire across the UK and Ireland.

A series of audience and content directors were appointed across different regions to run local newsrooms and work as part of the digital editorial leadership team, with local editors reporting to them.

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Comments

5 thoughts on “Reach to have local news title covering every county in England and Wales by end of 2021”

  1. @dussindale
    They’ll continue to stagnate with the same people in key positions running things

    As Archant have a new CEO and a new content chief their priority ought to be putting people into roles where they can deliver the goods
    Too many were over promoted or have been in their jobs for far too long,some commercial heads for a decade or more,some other ‘directors’even longer

    The media environment and how to reach it has changed yet they haven’t so a shake up is long overdue
    With those in charge
    out of ideas,out of their depth and running on empty this leave the door wide open in Norfolk and Suffolk for Reach to come in and hoover up audiences craving a professionally written and presented local news and ad service

    At the other end of the scale,I just hope the small independent publishers don’t feel the fall out too severely

  2. ‘ Al’
    There’s an old saying;
    “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got”

    It’s a simple and obvious pointer as to why Archants commercial advertising performance is so bad and the m9nrtiding of online news sites through advertising has been such a failure
    -the same tired old departmental director faces doing the same things they’ve done for years, shuffling paper out of sync with the modern media environment and presiding over years of underperformance clinging on to any sideways move or title they’re given just to keep in a highly paid job
    Incredible the staff and outsiders can see it yet those at board level ultimately responsible for performance and in a position to change things choose to ignore it and let the business slide ever further

    Proof that the ‘yes man and woman’culture is alive and well and thriving at Boswell Towers

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