David, left, will be in charge of a team of three or four journalists from across the company, who will be seconded to it on either a full-time or part-time basis, initially for nine months.
Suggested research topics for the team to pursue include NHS waiting times, education funding and classroom sizes, police detection rates, the impact and growth of wind farms, empty homes and pub and Post Office closures.
The central unit will then break down its findings to a local level so the relevant information can be fed back to the company’s newspapers.
Archant says the team will work “virtually, coming together for planning and reviews”.
Said David: “The stories that make a difference in our communities and stand out to the reader are often the ones that take the most time, research and investigation.
“This will allow us the space to do that and will bring in a raft of compelling content for our papers and websites.”
A separate election unit, led by EDP and East Anglian Daily Times political editor Annabelle Dickson, right, has also been launched to share ideas, resources and analysis ahead of polling day on 7 May.
The unit comprises members from each Archant local title, and is working on ideas including election panels of local voters, local and digital hustings, weekly podcasts, election blogs, data journalism and interviews with the party leaders.
Bob Crawley, Archant acting content director (newspapers), said: “Local political and general reporters will be best placed to deliver these ideas.
“They will know the candidates and the background to what will be the big stories in the coming weeks and months, but Annabelle will help steer them, and in some cases provide additional content for their print and website products.”