'The job is more varied and interesting than it ever was'

City-based evening papers have always been bustling places to work. With as many as four editions to prepare each day, and some papers filing their first stories at 8am, journalists in metropolitan areas have never had much cause to be bored. But now, with growing use of video and audio, many journalists now work for papers that have deadlines every minute.

The Hull Daily Mail is one of the first citybased regional papers to adopt video technology after it sent six reporters to the Press Association’s acclaimed video journalism course based in Howden, East Yorkshire, in November 2005.

Now more than 30 staff – almost the entire reporting team – are trained to film, edit and upload video reports. They include reporters and photographers from every section of the paper.

Editor John Meehan says the most difficult part of transforming the newsroom was convincing staff it was good for the paper. “The most important thing is the culture and the mindset [of staff],” he says. “We have worked very hard explaining where the business is now and where it is going. We need to continually evolve what we are doing to meet the needs of consumers – which means producing news in many different forms.

“A lot of people are very responsive to [new media] – the job now is much more varied and interesting than it ever was. Our people enjoy the fact that they can tell stories in lots of different ways.

“Increasingly we are finding that readers want to see the news as well as read the news, we are now in a position to give them both.”

Video clips on the Mail website, thisishull.co.uk, receive on average 1,500 views per day, Meehan says. One particular report, on plans for a new shopping centre in the city, has so far been seen by 15,000 people.

“I can say with confidence we are now a multimedia company,” says Meehan, adding that the change in title from Hull Newspapers to Hull News and Media reflects this. Parent company Northcliffe Media this year also dropped the name Northcliffe Newspapers.

Maximising lucrative online classified and recruitment advertising in an era of decline in print advertising is often cited as a reason to expand online. But Meehan, whose paper makes about five per cent of its income online, maintains that the paper remains the number one operation, both journalistically and financially.

“Our print revenues are pretty robust,” he says.

“But across the industry we are already seeing some erosion of print revenues and our objective is to make up the deficit with digital “None of this is about replacing the newspaper. I am utterly convinced that the Hull Daily Mail is the main thing we do, and it will be the most important thing we do for years and years ahead.

It will also be the main way we make money.”

In terms of recruitment, with few journalism colleges offering video journalism, any aspiring reporters with broadcasting or web journalism skills will be more likely to catch Meehan’s eye.

“They would have a significant advantage. In the future we will want to hire multiskilled, multimedia journalists – but the main thing we’re looking for is a positive attitude to the changes that are going on in the industry.”

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