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Online revolution to transform news group's internet presence

An online revolution at Trinity Mirror will sweep across the country later this year, transforming the company’s Internet presence.

While titles like the Buckinghamshire Advertiser are launching new websites in a blog format, others are preparing for big changes to a bespoke template aimed at becoming a regional point of contact with the Internet.

The latest launch follows the pattern set up in the north east, where Trinity Mirror’s hyper-local postcode area sites run on the same technology.

Where Trinity Mirror sites used to operate under the icnetwork banner, they have now evolved into Gazette Live and Chronicle Live in the north-east, and and in the north west, to pick up the established leading print newspaper brands.

The company is now set to launch further new sites on the back of three tried and tested best-practice website templates, one for morning regionals, one for evening regionals and one for weeklies. Where it was once a centralised operation, it is now the opposite.

The new set-up will use the newspaper brands because – Trinity Mirror says – it is not only the readers that identify with it, but editors and staff too.

David Black, director of regional digital media said: “In the second half of this year we are going to make a number of our key titles live online.

“We’ll be cross-promoting print to online and from online back into print.

“We launched newspaper branded sites and are focusing our strategy on print brands online.

“One of the key things we have been involved with on the new sites is a user-based approach, and interactivity.”

Editorial director for Trinity’s regionals, Neil Benson, said: “On a small title with a small staff, one of the many ways to develop new content is to harness the local community.

“There is an army of people who want to interact – it’s opening up a new avenue to local content.

“We are finding things out about the local community online that’s making it back into print.”

Next up for change are the Liverpool Echo and the sister paper the Daily Post, which will undergo a transformation in April and May.

The editors have been heavily involved in the changes and successful advertising platforms will also be transferred direct to the web, using branding already familiar to readers and customers.

The weekly template uses a straightforward structure, with Movable Type software, the same as many amateur bloggers operate from home.

The set-up isn’t cast in stone though, with editors on some weeklies asking for a daily version as their basic template.

And the company continues to press on towards the future, with the training of 13 more journalists as video journalists – with yet more to come. There are now up to 70 across the company.

Trinity Mirror is already running workshops looking at strategy, web tools and brainstorming.

The movement is to improve, launch and relaunch.

Neil said: “The new templates are fantastic and will enable a lot of things. There’s an unstoppable momentum online and we’re part of that.”

Trinity Mirror has recruited its own army of new bloggers by signing up local people already online, a move which saw page impressions for blogs double in January and double again into March.

Its own editors have embraced the phenomenon, with Daily Post editor Rob Irvine, Liverpool Echo editor Alastair Machray and Croydon Advertiser editor Ian Carter posting regular insights into their work and lives.