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Our big innovation is print says Newsquest editorial chief

tobygranvillenewA senior Newsquest executive has told fellow editors that the company’s “big innovation” is print.

Toby Granville, editorial development director at the regional publisher, was taking part in an ‘ideas and innovations’ session at the Society of Editors conference in Cambridge.

But while other panellists spoke mainly about cutting-edge digital projects, including robot journalism, Toby, left, appeared to defy the conventional wisdom.

“Our big innovation is print. We are launching new papers and we believe print has a big future,” he told the gathering in Cambridge.

New print titles to have been launched by Newsquest so far this year include the Oldham Times and the Warrington Post.

He also claimed that Newsquest has protected frontline reporting roles from job cuts although he conceded that “talented” sub-editors had been lost.

“A lot of our newsrooms had 30pc reporters and 70pc other roles…we knew we needed to reverse that,” he said.

“Now we have a process whereby reporters are writing directly onto shapes. We have lost talented sub-editors but it’s meant we have been able to invest in content.”

“Our aim through innovation is to have the most efficient newsrooms in the business.

“If we can get a sustainable business model in our titles, in a few years time we could be a growth industry again.”

Press Association editor Pete Clifton spokes about the agency’s ‘radar’ automated data journalism project which he said could generate up to 30,000 local news stories a month.

Pete insisted that the project would be “hugely additive” rather than a way of replacing journalists with robots.

Trinity Mirror editorial director Alan Edmunds spoke about the Birmingham newsroom plan to separate print and digital entirely.

“Our aim is to create a profitable standalone digital business,” he said.

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  • November 14, 2017 at 9:37 am
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    “Now we have a process whereby reporters are writing directly onto shapes. We have lost talented sub-editors but it’s meant we have been able to invest in content.”
    The shapes have ruined newspaper design.
    The content of most weekly papers seems to be 80 per cent press releases or poorly edited pieces from “contributors” who can barely string two words together. Need to up the game a bit, I fear.

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  • November 14, 2017 at 12:14 pm
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    Paperboy is right. Writing to shapes is bad enough but some publishers have gone further and limit stories to three word lengths. There is an art to writing concise stories of 50-70 words for print but these have been sacrificed and it hurts the quality of the print product now stories are often overwritten just to suit the rigid templates.

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  • November 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm
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    Another Newsquest manager with a PHD in BS. When I was working in the industry, not so long ago, these same mangers were calling the paper product, “ink on dead tress”.

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  • November 14, 2017 at 1:03 pm
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    Fair enough paperboy, but newspapers being full of press releases or poorly edited submitted content is to do with those on the newsdesks, not the lack of subs, surely?
    And, I wonder how many people on the street buy a particular newspaper because of its design? I suspect they buy it either because it represents what they stand for, or because it is their local newspaper.
    As other news outlets have shown, content is the key – no matter how you dress it up or, indeed, down!

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  • November 14, 2017 at 1:09 pm
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    You can say that again ‘ seasidejourno’ and that kind of formulaic stricture is why more and more people are walking away from the papers,finding nothing new, of value or in depth enough to read in them and then expected to pay a price higher than ever, readers our dire weekly papers cannot afford to lose, and I for one find it embarrassing when I’m asked ‘ so how many copies of the paper do you actually sell these days?’

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  • November 15, 2017 at 8:32 am
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    I agree with archie and seasidejourno, I also wonder if the papers were dumbed down and ‘boxed up’ to meet the levels and capabilities of ( the majority) of those who remain in the teams or whether by replacing well planned papers with boxes to fill there’s less of a need for real journalists to work on them anymore?
    I suspect a little of both so is it any wonder previous buyers of the daily papers have turned to social media news sites to get the broader and more in-depth stories once only available by buying a paper, now when copy sales are so bad and falling further the chiefs in their wisdom (?) reduce the quality even further by pushing out identikit pages written by shape fillers with little or anything of substance to read.

    As for the god awful weeklies for what they’re worth now they might just as well scrap the lot as anything that gets in those is already well past it’s read by date and of no interest any longer.
    They’ve realised the commercial team has failed to monetise digital so are back peddling in a desperate attempt to monetise print, good luck with that one

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  • November 15, 2017 at 12:34 pm
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    “Our big innovation is print.”

    Reading the above from a member of the newspaper industry seems akin to someone in a bakery saying their big innovation is bread! Think I know what he means, just seems wrong to use the word ‘innovation’ in relation to it.

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  • November 15, 2017 at 12:47 pm
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    “Now we have a process whereby reporters are writing directly onto shapes. We have lost talented sub-editors but it’s meant we have been able to invest in content.”

    How is ditching talented subs part of a process of investing in content?
    Surely it’s part of a process in which any old crap will do as long as we can save some money!
    Writing into shapes just means the original raw material remains raw – which, when it comes from poorly trained new recruits, can be pretty dire.
    Most of it is cut and paste of course. That’s often written with a self-congratulatory slant, usually using the name of the promoting organisation at least once in every sentence. That used to be edited out but now it’s just shovelled through.
    Subs sort that out – the ones that still exist.
    I don’t recall seeing scores of adverts for scores more reporters at Newsquest titles… so what does investing in content actually mean?
    He doesn’t mean investing in the content of his own wallet, does he?

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  • November 16, 2017 at 9:45 am
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    >“A lot of our newsrooms had 30pc reporters and 70pc other roles…we knew we needed to reverse that,” he said.

    Well, if you make the other 70 per cent redundant, you have 100 per cent reporters. Doesn’t mean you have more reporters.

    In answer to Yes but… Newspapers are full of (unedited) submitted content because they haven’t got enough reporters to fill the holes.

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