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Digital version of the Journal set to push boundaries

A new digital version of The Journal in Newcastle will shortly be available online.

In a break from the traditional online versions of local newspapers, it will charge subscribers in a bid to determine the way forward for paid-for content.

Nearly all regional daily and evening newspapers have an Internet version, most offering them for free, with news cut and pasted from the electronic sub-editing systems.

The Journal shares the portal with the Chronicle.

Some publishers already use PDF versions of their pages – which resemble like photographs or high quality scans of the actual pages – but the Journal pilot will take this a stage further.

Trinity Mirror and the Journal are working with a Wolverhampton-based company PCS, using what editor Brian Aitken describes as “eye-opening” software.

He said: “For instance, you won’t just see Alan Shearer celebrating scoring a goal, you will be able to view streaming video of him scoring.

“You won’t simply get a review of a new cinema release, but be able to see the trailer for it.

“And in the case of a BMW advertiser, for example, as well as the car advert, you would be able to see a commercial for the vehicle.”

The pilot came about in response to Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey’s creation of an innovation fund, which the Journal made a bid for to move forward with its digital media plans.

Brian said: “When I was revamping the business section of the newspaper we did a lot of informal marketing with the business community.

“We held events here and found that while everyone read the paper, hardly anyone actually bought it – so the sales of the paper fail to reflect the readership or the authority we have in the North East.

“A lot of editors think it’s absolutely crazy to allow all our content to be made available free to anyone who wants to read it. That’s been the case for some time now.”

The plans would see the portal continue to carry the main news of the day, but with business, politics, arts and entertainment and the popular Journal columnists all moved into the new subscription area. Fees for readers are likely to be set at £9 per month, 17 per cent cheaper than buying a hard copy of the paper each day.

The content would be available before the newspaper hit the streets, which meant early risers would get their Journal online before it had even arrived at newsagents.

The project, which will begin in the next few weeks and be completed by the autumn, will have a six-month pilot.

  • Media owner Rupert Murdoch last week signalled the beginning of the end for what he called bland, repurposed content, suggesting that online versions of newspapers would have to offer something more to offset declining readership.

    Video content on news sites, blogging, and on-demand news were some of the potential saviours he put forward while addressing the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

    He said: “We need to realise that the next generation of people accessing news and information, whether from newspapers or any other source, have a different set of expectations about the kind of news they will get, including when and how they will get it, where they will get it from, and who they will get it from.

    “How many of us can honestly say that we are taking maximum advantage of those [newspaper] websites to serve our readers, to strengthen our businesses, or to meet head-on what readers increasingly say is important to them in reading our news?

    “We have the experience, the brands, the resources, and the know-how to get it done.”

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