A regional daily editor has responded to readers’ calls for his title to be printed locally after launching a listening exercise on how to improve the paper.
Yesterday’s Liverpool Echo splash bore only the phrase ‘#TellAli’ at the bottom of the page, with editor Alastair Machray encouraging the public to tweet him with suggestions on how to improve the paper.
Within hours of the project being launched, scores of readers had responded urging Alastair to bring the paper’s printing operation back to the city.
Printing of the Echo moved to Trinity Mirror’s plant in Chadderton, near Oldham seven years ago, resulting in jobs being lost in Liverpool.
In response, Alastair published a piece on the Echo’s website in which he admitted the change had been made with a “heavy heart.”
He said the move to Oldham cost £8m while upgrading in Liverpool would have cost £22m.
Alastair added: “To stay would have been, literally, ruinous. Sadly people did lose their jobs but the fact is that if we hadn’t made the change many, many more would have done so.
“What needs to be made clear is that it is only the final, physical printing process that takes place outside of Liverpool.
“All the journalists, all the local advertising staff are based here in Old Hall Street right in the heart of Liverpool.
“I couldn’t edit an Echo that wasn’t written in Liverpool. That’s where we are staying.”
The ‘#TellAli’ project will last 30 days while the Echo prepares for the relaunch at the end of the month.
A survey is also available online for readers to complete.
Said Alastair: “I have been a journalist for 36 years and seen many remarkable front pages. This is certainly one of them.
“I know it will raise eyebrows but what we are saying is that we want the people of Liverpool to tell us what they want to see in that big white space as well as in the rest of their paper.
“What is inescapable is that Liverpool has changed hugely and is unrecognisable from what it was 20 years ago. It is a city re-born, but a city with a remarkable past and without doubt an incredible future.
“We have brilliant, award-winning journalists here in our Liverpool city centre offices. We are proud of what we do but now we’re asking ourselves how we can do it even better and reflect the new Liverpool as well as we should.
“Regional newspapers like the Echo play a vital role in any community and therefore it’s essential the paper moves in the same direction as the city and its people.
“So I’m really keen to hear from everyone and anyone on Merseyside about what they want to read in their Echo every day – the type of news we should be reporting, the things we should be celebrating, the stories we should be telling.”