Regional publisher Johnston Press is set to relaunch one of its weekly titles with up to 75pc of content coming from the local community.
The Local in Bourne, Lincolnshire, will be relaunched as “the people’s paper” in a move which is set to dramatically increase the amount of user-generated content in the title and could see readers writing stories directly onto pages.
The paper claims to be the first in the country to begin such a trial, which has been nicknamed “the Bourne Experiment”, and the reinvention of the weekly is set to begin at the end of this month.
It is understood that if the move is a success, it could be rolled out as a new model for other small, weekly newspapers.
Under the initiative, local people will be invited to submit photographs, articles and reviews about the things that interest them and will even be able to add items to the pages of their local paper from their own homes using technology adopted by JP.
The company said the move was not about cost-cutting and the same number of reporters would continue to work for the paper.
Mark Edwards, JP editorial director for the Midlands and group editor of the title, said journalists would oversee the project and curate the submitted content.
He said: “The usual legal and ethical constraints will apply and so will those of public interest and relevance.
“Our journalistic resource is precious and our reporters will still be out in the town covering the key stories and issues. What we hope this project will allow us to do is cast our net wider and include more community news written by our readers – and in some cases written directly on to the pages of the week’s newspaper.
“Sections like village news and readers’ letters have always been hugely popular and this project is all about bringing the local community together, offering them the chance to contribute to the paper the kind of material they and their friends and families want to read.
“We have always worked hard to include local content: now we hope, thanks to the technology that’s available, to be able to open that door wider than ever.”
Local readers have been told about the “new era” for the title and invited to contribute.
The paper said they would be given free training to allow them to add articles to the title from home.
Material from the community is also set to appear on the paper’s website to expand its digital coverage of local news.
It is understood that around 25pc of the title currently comes from user-generated content, from items such as readers’s letters, villages news and sports roundups.