A major shake-up of newsrooms across three publishing regions has been outlined by regional publisher Johnston Press.
The company originally unveiled its “newsroom of the future” initiative last September, with newspapers in its North Midlands and South Yorkshire division taking part in a pilot project.
The trial has seen journalists across multiple titles grouped into two teams covering Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire respectively, while a central unit works on entertainments, community news, features and sport for all JP’s newspapers in the region.
Now Yorkshire Post editor and JP editorial board chairman Jeremy Clifford has revealed the project is to be rolled out to two further regions, expanding to cover its weekly titles in Scotland and the South Midlands, which includes Leicestershire and Northamptionshire.
The announcement came in an article in JP’s internal staff newsletter, The Word, which went out yesterday lunchtime.
Jeremy, pictured, confirmed that one daily newspaper – believed to be Sheffield daily The Star – would be included in the rollout, which is due to take place in April.
As well as new newsroom structures, Jeremy said the changes would mean new websites, fresh investment in digital, better working conditions for journalists and further brand relaunches.
Although Jeremy made reference to having to deliver content with fewer journalists in the piece, there was no specific mention of whether the new structure would entail further job losses.
Said Jeremy: “We’ve had to face up to delivering quality content with fewer journalists – it’s a harsh reality that we must cut our cloth according to our means, and we have challenges ahead.
“So we will respond by working in new ways, building on our expertise and the commitment to our local communities that sets us apart from the rest.
“The newsroom of the future pilot, while not without its challenges, has been a success and is informing what the roll out of the programme will look like.
“We are also incorporating a daily title into the overall pilot, to understand how this transition would impact them.”
He added: “Journalists, equipped with the latest technology and tools, will be out in their communities, reporting back to news and sports content hubs, who decide where to publish content for maximum reach.
“A community of contributors will upload their stories, pictures and videos to a new content management system, allowing specialist teams to repurpose content to relevant publications.”
One Johnston Press employee, who did not want to be named, told HTFP: “This is the same old stuff where its a lot of buzz words saying how great it is, but we’re still none the wiser as to where we’re going to be working from and what’s happened.
“If a local authority sent something through like this we’d be absolutely panning them because it’s all buzz words.
“The overriding opinion of most people that we’ve heard from is it all sounds OK and good, but where’s the detail about where people are going to be based and things like that?
“That’s what people are concerned about.”