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Local World boss foresees ’20-fold increase in content’

The boss of the new Local World newspaper company has said local publishers will be handling a “20-fold increase” in content – much of it generated by the community.

David Montgomery, who chairs the new consortium made up of regional publishers Northcliffe Media and Iliffe News and Media, says he wants to turn local publishers into a one-stop-shop for local content.

Speaking of his vision for the company, he said the job of the modern editor would be “broader” than at present and claimed that the “old news agenda dictated by news editors the length and breadth of newspapers” is no longer relevant.

His comments came in an interview with veteran media pundit Ray Snoddy, published in industry magazine In Publishing.

Former Mirror Group boss David said that the most significant shift the industry needed to make was that local publishers need to be prepared to handle “lots of content that comes from the community itself,”

“It’s about getting people to organise themselves sufficiently to manage the amount of content a local publisher exploits. Not a two fold increase but a 20-fold increase,” he said.

In the interview, he said the title of editor would survive but the role would become “broader and more comprehensive.”

“The modern editor will be the content director, managing content, organising content and disseminating it on the appropriate platform; print, online or mobile,” he added.

David reiterated his determination to leave behind what he called the “industrial baggage” of the industry and start with “a clean sheet of paper.”

“Our starting point in Local World is we have no presses whatsoever and ultimately, our ambition is to be a pure content and commerce business and that once a year, we write a cheque to a provider of all the services you need to continue to produce print,” he said.

Local World was formed in November when DMGT agreed to sell Northcliffe to the new consortium for £52.5m plus 38.7pc of the shares.  Iliffe’s former parent company Yattendon owns a 21.3pc stake and Trinity Mirror 20pc.

The Office for Fair Trading has announced it is to look into the deal, but chief executive Steve Auckland has said he is confident of addressing any concerns.

23 comments

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  • January 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm
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    He’s talking about the internet, and news provided by someone other than a journalist.

    And being an online news agency readers will subscribe to according to their interests.

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  • January 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm
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    Thats all very well BUT:

    a) Where is the content from the communties going to come from? Are we going to pay people to submit content? If not, once the novelty wears off, most contributors will get fed up / run out of time & the content dries up

    b) Most ‘news’ that comes out of ‘communities’ is mostly things such as chuch fayres, village fates, playgroups etc. Is that content really enough to keep reader interest? I wouldent buy or read a newspaper that was full of random little snippits like that – I want real juicy news stories!

    c) If users are submitting their own content to fill our products, how can the content they submit be verified and trusted?

    Seems a bit flaky to me. You only have to look on the ‘Local People’ websites to see the main flaw in this plan – people DONT WANT TO submit their own content!! Hence the reason the local people sites are bare & boring……

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  • January 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm
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    Will the 20 per cent increase in content lead to a 20 per cent increase in recruitment of journalists?

    Maybe Steve Dyson could do some actual journalism on this.

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  • January 25, 2013 at 2:50 pm
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    Basically. Lets do it on the cheap. Get the public to supply everything including all of the local gossip and any other rubbish we can get away with. All photos can come from smart phones. Have one guy (part time!?) who can vet it all and then we wait for it blow up in our face. But not before we have made lots of dosh.

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  • January 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm
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    That sound you can hear is Vere Harmsworth spinning at 1,000 rpm.

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  • January 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm
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    Reader content is fine but (a) it’s got to be subbed properly otherwise it’s just Facebook and (b) you still need advertisers.

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  • January 28, 2013 at 10:51 am
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    Very much agree with the content re subbing. Nationals as well as regionals/locals need to wake up on this one.

    Did anyone else notice the other day that the Daily Telegraph reported on an incident involving a ‘bridal path’?

    A local weekly reported that a church tower had been damaged by a ‘gale’.

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  • January 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm
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    I think these comments need to be subbed. What is wrong with a gale damaging a church tower?
    Have to say I agree with the general sentiments expressed here though. My paper is transitioning to a higher mix of User Generated Content and most of what it publishes is of pretty low standard. Well below the quality expected of professional journalism, of course, but even below what many have come to expect from good, established bloggers.
    Probably because even those bloggers are getting paid for their efforts, if they are any good. (anyone can set up their own blog and monetize it these days, and if they bring in the readers, they get paid).
    Readers will soon get bored with UGC if it doesn’t come up to scratch.
    Why do editors think that there is a huge crowd of people waiting in the wings ready to provide free content for them? There are already plenty of places online where anyone who has anything to say can say it, if they feel the need.
    Local doo-gooders and busybodies, possibly, for whom their local paper still holds a place in their heart, could be tempted, but from what have seen these are a (literally) dying breed.

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  • January 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm
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    David Montgomery talks about the editor’s role becoming “broader and more comprehensive”. Does that mean they’ll end up with MORE work to do? The editor at my paper would either shoot himself or die of a stress-induced heart attack if his crazy workload got even worse.

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  • January 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm
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    It I were David Montgomerie, I would be working on a plan B, because his plan A makes George Osbourne’s look good.

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  • January 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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    Local World have missed the boat… it’s called Facebook.

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  • January 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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    I’m with Out-of-work Hack on this.
    If the role of editor becomes “broader and more comprehensive,” and he becomes “content director” where do the reporters/subs fit in?

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  • January 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm
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    Jero: You’re right, it is just Facebook. But it’s people doing Facebook on our sites – so the space is more widely seen, more valuable to advertisers and we get revenue as the local equivalent of Facebook instead of Facebook getting the revenue. That’s the point.

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  • January 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm
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    Citizen: it seems logical that reporters will continue to write trusted local news to complement all this additional local content and subs will continue to check their work. Professionally-written news and submitted local content are not mutually exclusive. And Out-of-work Hack, he’s talking about a 20-fold increase in content, not 20 per cent. And the whole point is that much of this new stuff is not written by journalists, but is the stuff people are currently taking to Facebook and Shape Your Place rather than to us. It’s no wonder we’re in such a mess if we can’t read/process information.

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  • January 28, 2013 at 3:19 pm
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    I don’t get all this Talk about facebook. As a lad in my 20’s, I use facebook for sharing pictures of nights out / of my daughter / keeping in touch with family etc. I have never, ever used it to view news on……

    User content will NOT work – why why why would I want to buy a paper / view a website that is full of church fayre’s and stories by the local busybodies?

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  • January 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm
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    Roy , if they’re taking the stuff to Facebook and their friends already, what’s the incentive to put it on your site?

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  • January 29, 2013 at 10:36 am
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    Lensman: the incentive? Hmm, let me think. As local newspapers, what’s the USP? I think the clue might be in the name. The incentive is to have your community news published on the same platform as proper local news.

    What a lot of people seem to forget that this approach is nothing new. Back when local papers were really popular and successful, they were basically printed “content hubs” or repositories of knowledge for their local community. Papers of record which took names at funerals and always printed flower festival results in full. We’d pick up a paper from the early part of the 20th century now with our modern sensibilities and sneer at it, but our modern sensibilities have got us into a proper hole.

    More content on our sites above and beyond what we consider news, more hits, more appeal to advertisers, more revenue. Print is never going to pay like it once did, so we need to catch up with the likes of Facebook to start making digital really pay. Evolve or die.

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  • January 29, 2013 at 3:41 pm
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    Roy Challis

    The whole point your missing is that people DON’T WANT to read about funeral notices or flower festivals. Thats the whole point WHY we are in decline. People want news stories that make them laugh, make them question the world around them and make them intrested. Look at the Mail Online – its funky, fresh, modern and mroe importantly, it’s intresting…….. you may feel that reading about flower festivals is intresting, but most people do not.

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  • January 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm
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    No Biller, you’re missing the point. If there’s a 20-fold increase in content, all the current professionally-generated, funky fresh and modern stuff is there – done by journalists – alongside all the crap you and I don’t want to read but lots of people do. As I said up-thread, the two things aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s about covering all the bases. Anyway, I was using that stuff as an example of what we used to do so thoroughly – modern user content is more likely to be the kind of stuff people put on Shape Your Place. If there’s one in your area, check it out. It will more than likely be chock-full of good local stories waiting to be cherry-picked and boasting the kind of user interactivity Local World would give its right arm for.

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  • January 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm
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    I’m with Roy on this. There are some fantastic bloggers out there who discuss all manner of subjects, local and national, but engage well with a very small audience. What Local World has is a larger audience to expose such people to. Many will love the opportunity to share their views and opinions to a much larger number of people and the majority will happily do it for free.

    Just because you’re a professional journalist doesn’t mean you write engaging and interesting content. You may have your shorthand and you may have read McNae’s a few times, but that’s not what’s important anymore. It’s now about being easily accessible, appealing, concise and fast-reacting.

    The days of the traditional print journalist died three years ago when the first iPad came out. That’s when all of this information from these quality bloggers became more available, more quickly and unfiltered.

    The issue with social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, is that you have to ‘like’ a multitude of fan pages or be following a certain number of of people to access even a small amount of the content which may interest you. The idea behind Local World is that it is all in one place.

    I’m not saying it’ll work as it’s too early to tell, but any efforts to attract and increase audience have to be a good thing when all newspapers have done for the last 10 years+ is fight a losing battle to keep the existing one.

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  • January 31, 2013 at 10:58 am
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    One small question Oliver. How will it make any money to keep journalists, photographers & other staff in jobs?

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