Senior editors from the leading publishing groups set out their visions of the future of local newspapers at a major industry gathering yesterday.
They include more user-generated content, smaller offices, cover price rises, and, on some papers, no staff photographers.
Yorkshire Post editor Jeremy Clifford, who is also chair of Johnston Press’s editorial board, focused in his presentation on user-generated content and how it can enhance newspapers, using the Bourne Local and Pocklington Post as examples where the idea has taken off.
He also defended the decision of some parts of JP to dispense with staff photographers.
However he also revealed that JP would be launching a web-based submission tool to make it easier for members of the public to send in their pictures.
Jeremy summed up the future saying: “There will be fewer print journalists, more contributed content, better technology, and papers owned by readers.”
Speaking about his group’s ‘Newsroom 3.1′ plan, Trinity editorial director Neil Benson said it would mean “all content staff will focus on producing digital content all day and every day.”
The print titles in future will be “reverse-published” from content already published on the web.
However in response to questions, both Neil and Jeremy made clear that online paywalls played no part in their groups’ current plans.
Said Neil: “Our approach at the moment is about building an audience. If paywalls worked we would have no problem with them but they patently don’t.”
Ian Murray, editor-in-chief of the Southern Daily Echo, spoke about Newsquest’s controversial strategy of increasing cover price rises during 2013 which led circulation to plummety by up to a third on some titles.
He claimed that while the Daily Echo has lost 5pc of its sales following the price hike, its circulation revenues had actually increased by 20pc.
Neil White of the Local World-owned Derby Telegraph said newsrooms of the future would be much smaller and that editorial and commercial staff would work more closely together.
Full coverage of the conference can be found here.