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Online first for free weeklies

Northcliffe Newspapers has expanded its online offerings, giving three of its free newspapers their own websites.

The Lichfield Mercury, Sutton Coldfield Observer and Walsall Advertiser have become the group’s first free weeklies to go online, in response to comments from readers., and have been created by Northcliffe Electronic Publishing, and allow readers to read the latest news and sport online as well as viewing photo slideshows and e-mailing the editor.

Lichfield Mercury editor Tim Hewitt said: “Many of our readers have been disappointed by the fact that we didn’t have a website and that we didn’t have a presence online.

“Now we have an Internet identity and it means that readers can catch up or revisit stories from wherever they are, or whenever they want.

“The website will also help us to keep in touch with readers’ opinions as they can send instant feedback through the site by clicking on a function that lets them send their comments to us.”

NEP content development manager Steve Allen added: “We were more than happy to give these newspapers their own sites.

“Although at first the changes to the Tera system (a programme that helps put the stories live on the sites) were hard, it was well worth the effort.

“It’s nice to see free weekly newspapers getting their own portals and I’m looking forward to working with them to develop their ideas over the coming months.”