The Liverpool Echo yesterday unveiled a relaunched print edition which has new emphasis on being positive and telling readers the truth.
Following extensive reader research, two assistant editors have been given the job of making sure that each day the Echo is as positive as it can be – when the story warrants it – and to ensure the paper is being as truthful as possible, and not sensationalising stories.
And it has a new slogan ‘We are the voice of Liverpool’which also stems from the research.
Echo editor Alastair Machray said that Liverpool has been through ‘enormous regeneration and improvement’in recent years and that the paper needed to change to reflect that:
“It’s unrecognisable to what it was 15 years ago and the readers felt we hadn’t recognised that,” he said.
On the paper’s ‘truth project’he said: ‘We don’t want to lose our edge, but we do want to make sure we don’t push it and betray the trust of our readers. They regard accuracy as being ahead of sensationalism.”
And on the moves to become more positive, he said: ‘Our readers were telling us we’ve got to big the city up when it deserves it. We want to make sure we are doing good news stories about Liverpool with gusto.”
He said the redesign of the paper is intended to make it look ‘lighter, more modern and – crucially – easier to read”.
There are new dedicated health, education and environment sections. And there is a new weekly four-page section looking in detail at Liverpool and Everton football clubs covering everything from youth team to the reserves.
The changes in print come shortly after the Echo introduced new interactive maps online detailing the geographical location of news stories.
It has also launched live blogging technology – and was this week carrying an automatically-updating blog feed from the Rhys Jones murder trial.
In common with other big city dailies – the Echo has lost sales at a steep rate in recent years. In the first six months of this year it sold 102,488 copies a day, down 6.6 per cent year-on-year.
Asked about the prospects for the Echo in print, Machray said: “I’m committed to an online future, I see it in my own lifestyle. People are increasingly relying on the internet for their news fix, increasingly online is going to be the place where news is broken and news is debated.”
But he added: ‘The best newspapers are going to be about explaining, exclusivity and breaking great stories, being opinionated, fearless and trying to tell readers what’s in store for them – explaining the myriad of information which is thrown at them every day.
‘Last week a young army cadet was stabbed to death outside a nightclub and we saw a six per cent sales lift. Big stories still sell newspapers in large amounts.
‘Readers look to the Echo to tell them the truth about what’s happening when the rest of the world is throwing information at them from all quarters.”
Positive editing at the relaunched Birmingham Post
The Echo relaunch comes a week after a major shake-up for Trinity Mirror‘s Birmingham-based Post.
It went back to the future as a tabloid-sized five days a week business daily.
It last went tabloid in the early eighties but switched back to broadsheet in the early nineties.
The new look makes the Post the most business focussed of any regional daily. The radical change follows some steep circulation drops for the morning paper.
In in the first six months of this year the Post had an average circulation of 12,795, of which only two thirds of copies were paid-for.
Business news now starts on page five of the paper – and in the first week, business also provided most of the splashes.
But editor Marc Reeves said that a ‘good story will always still trump everything”.
Reeves said that the new look aims to build on his philosophy of ‘positive editing”.
He said that means “being very definite about what each page lead and spread is and absolutely hammering it in terms of backgrounders and other information.”
The Post’s relaunch has been accompanied by a policy of getting stories out to readers as quickly as possible via the website.
Breaking news goes up throughout the day – with the print edition aiming to have a more agenda-setting role, providing readers also with more detail.
Reeves said: ‘Time is money, and the sooner they get the news the more advantage they can take of it.”
Reeves said that the integration of the Post’s editorial team with that of the Birmingham Mail – which is currently ongoing – means that the combined business team is now more focused on the Post.
He said: ‘In a way I feel like we’ve got more people. We’ve previously been in our own editorial silo.’
The new set-up means the Post will have more multimedia online content – courtesy of the papers’ combined mutimedia team.