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Journalist turned politician hits out at website merger

Lee WatersA politician and former journalist has warned the merger of two regional news websites risks “trashing” the brands.

Welsh Assembly Member Lee Waters, left, believes there is a “real danger” the South Wales Evening Post will lose readers and credibility once the Swansea-based daily’s site is closed, with its stories appeareing instead on parent company Trinity Mirror’s Wales Online platform.

Lee, who worked as a producer for the BBC’s Good Morning Wales and as chief political correspondent for ITV Wales for more than five years, has served as Labour Assembly Member for Llanelli since May 2016.

He currently sits on the assembly’s culture committee, which is set to hold an investigation into the news industry later this year.

Said Lee: “I think there’s a real danger that we are trashing well-established, trusted brands.

“The Evening Post has spent generations building up credibility. I am a former Evening Post newspaper boy and people trust what they read.

“There is a real danger, in trying to shift this into a different setting which is a Wales Online site, that they will lose audiences and they will lose credibility with those audiences, all in search of clicks.”

No jobs are to be lost as a result of the merger and the Post’s digital staff will continue to be based in Swansea.

In response, a Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “The regular audience figures we have for Wales Online shows that this is a trusted brand, and people are going there time and time again because it is a reputable source for news in Wales.

“We are investing heavily in journalism in Wales, and the transition of the site into Wales Online will free up more resources for capturing the stories that matter to people. There’s going to be an increase in our coverage of the region, not less.

“This move is designed to create a thriving digital Welsh news brand and will have no negative impact on any of our print titles. This move has taken months of careful preparation to ensure it delivers an improved service for users of all our brands, across print and digital.

“The digital changes are designed to deliver sustainable growth among a local and engaged audience alongside a vastly improved user experience. This is ultimately what will protect the quality of our journalism and give us the ability to better reflect life across Wales, with particular reference in this instance to South West Wales.”