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Ex-Local World sites to lose public news archives in web upgrades

Former Local World titles are set to lose their publicly-accessible online archives when their websites are upgraded, Trinity Mirror has confirmed.

The regional publisher says it has chosen not to migrate full archives on to new sites because the switch would make archived content “hard to read and scruffy to look at” without significant technical work being undertaken on each individual web page affected.

The upgrades – which have already taken place at titles including the Bristol Post, Cambridge News and newly-created county-wide sites such as Kent Live – involve switching to a new content management system, with past attempts to migrate the archives having led to reader complaints.

However, the pubsisher says archived stories can still be accessed by reporters working at the affected titles.

The website of the Cambridge News

The website of the Cambridge News

The company has confirmed to HTFP that the removal of publicly-accessible archives will apply to any future revamps of former Local World websites, but added that less than 1pc of readers currently read content which is more than four months old.

Titles in Trinity Mirror’s stable which were not previously owned by LW are not affected.

A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “When we first began working with newsrooms which had been part of Local World, readers said they wanted a website which was easier to use, particularly on mobile phones, and staff said they wanted a website which was easier to use and showcased their work more effectively.

“We have chosen not to migrate our full archives on to our new sites because it would have slowed down significantly our ability to roll out the improved sites. This is because you can’t just migrate an archive from one CMS to another and expect it to work in a way which is useful for readers.

“Different formats and layout means that without significant work per article, archived content would have been hard to read and scruffy to look at. Previously, we have migrated archives without carrying out this article-by-article work and received complaints from readers about that.”

“We feel our efforts are best served focusing on the best possible experience for the vast majority of readers, both in terms of building a new website and focusing our efforts on new content.

“The archive is not lost. It still exists. Reporters can access it. In this sense, it is no different to what we’ve done for decades – holding a library of content primarily for our reporters.

“Since the launch of the new [Cambridge News] site, monthly unique browser numbers are up 32pc which is down to the vastly improved usability of the site and the hard work and dedication of the team behind it.”

However, the policy has drawn criticism from Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, who told Press Gazette the disappearance¬†of the public archives was a “real loss”.

He said: “In the digital age we have all come to expect that the information will be available for us. The local newspaper is a key source of information for local people which is why they are so important.”

3 comments

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  • March 30, 2017 at 1:11 pm
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    In the old days if any member of the public wanted to look up an old story, for whatever reason, their local newspaper office or sometimes their library would have it on file. It was part of their service. Until now, that service has mostly been replaced by the online archive, which, if you know how to search properly, usually gives you what you want. But now any searching by the public will become impossible, unless you can cultivate a friendly reporter with the time to search for you. Fat chance, in this hectic world.
    This is a disgrace and dangerous, yet again, for democracy and freedom of information and even crime prevention. It’s TM thinking of their costs first & any concept of their wider role beyond making money very much last.
    The solution, of course, would be to employ those strange creatures called “librarians”…

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  • March 30, 2017 at 7:19 pm
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    GladImOutOfIt, I agree, of course.

    Yet you talk of democracy. Local newspapers today care only about that when it suits their agenda, either in crowing about the impact of regulation or when trying to argue that cash strapped councils should continue to spend absurd sums on public notices no one reads. The truth, as you know, is that they are only interested in the clicks. Why bother to maintain an archive that will only be used once in a while and make them no money, when they can concentrate on cat pictures?

    Local newspapers are a business. It’s just that in lean times it’s become more obvious that they’re not very good ones.

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  • March 31, 2017 at 6:37 am
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    Yesterday’s news
    Your last sentence is a whole matter altogether as this is one of the key insights into the dire state of the regional press in this country and needs further extensive debate.
    Publishing has always been a big business and in good times when local papers were the essential and main source of local news, the very best staff in all departments were performing at the tops of their game and poor management wasn’t so noticeable
    ,the companies were simply managing volumes and handling the business which was coming in in droves., the numbers were there in terms of copy sales and ad revenues and everyone was happy.
    Wind the clock on and In the past few years,particularly so 2015/2016/2017 when papers are in their death throes and all the best staff have gone from the business,again from all departments the business is being run by people unskilled and unable to manage an industry in decline so the losses get bigger,, standards continue to fall, the content is worse than its ever been and better stronger and more effective competition , often staffed by the best ex reginalnoress people, has emerged to take business and market share from the bigger publishers who remain over burdened wth high costs and high staff levels , particularly in the advertising department in a declining market.
    It’s only now those cracks are appearing yet without the best staff on board and at a time when they’re needed most.

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