Six sister weeklies have removed all editorial content from their websites in a bid to drive traffic to their social media channels.
The move by the newspapers, which are all owned by Johnston Press, came into effect yesterday.
Readers visiting the websites of the Arbroath Herald, Brechin Advertiser, Forfar Dispatch, Guide & Gazette, Kirriemuir Herald and Montrose Review are now instead greeted with a homepage offering six different options.
Links allow visitors to go directly to the relevant title’s Facebook page, subscribe to the newspaper and email its staff.
Readers are also directed to The Scotsman’s website for North-East of Scotland news stories and advertising enquiries, while another link allows them to search for property, motors, jobs and family announcements.
The changes were unveiled in an announcement made across the titles’ Facebook pages on Saturday.
It states: “We’re making some changes next week, which we hope will provide you with a better paper and a chance to engage with us more on our social media platforms.
“It will mean our websites won’t exist in their current format, but will provide readers with the chance to visit this dedicated Facebook page, find out more about subscriptions, purchase images and much more.”
This was followed up by a further announcement on Monday, which reads: “A reminder to our readers – we have now taken the decision to switch our focus away from our websites and on to our social media platforms, particularly Facebook.
“With effect from Tuesday 30 May, our websites will no longer operate as they previously did, with visitors instead being presented with a range of options to explore, including our Facebook page and subscription service.”
A spokeswoman for Johnston Press said: “We are currently exploring a number of digital options which allow our news teams to focus on providing the best news coverage – be it in print or online.
“In some of our smaller areas we see social platforms as an effective way to stay connected to our readers. We want to focus resource on increasing engagement through those platforms in support of a quality print product.
“Our valued advertisers still have a number of product options which allow them to target customers locally and nationally. We’ll see how this works in these regions and make subsequent decisions on a case-by-case basis.”