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Former daily editor ‘saddened’ by online rebrand of hometown paper

Neil WhiteA former regional daily editor has questioned the company’s online rebrand of his hometown newspaper – saying he feels “sad” at the decision.

Neil White, left, who edited the Derby Telegraph from 2012 to 2016, has criticised his former employer Trinity Mirror over the renaming of the Coventry Telegraph’s website as ‘Coventry Live’ in line with a nationwide rebranding of much of the company’s digital portfolio.

But in a conversation with Neil on Twitter, Trinity Mirror digital publishing director David Higgerson defended the switch – saying research has shown the ‘Live’ brand name is “proven” to reach more people online.

The Telegraph’s website was relaunched under its new name earlier this month along with those of several other Midlands dailies.

On Twitter, Coventry native Neil posted to David: “I have never spoken out negatively about the media landscape since my departure nearly two years ago but you have made me sad with Coventry Live. The Coventry Telegraph name has been a daily part of my life for 50 years. Why have you taken it away?”

“You are creating a brand new brand against one which everyone knows in Coventry. I would love to see the proof that works. Can’t believe a single reader said they wanted it would be more loyal because of the change.

David responded: “‘Live’ is proven to reach more people and research says a wider range of people turn to it than a print brand online. We think we can get good local journalism to more people online under the new brand. And create more reader loyalty.

“Just because everyone knows a brand, doesn’t mean they use it. And it can mean they’ve concluded it’s not for them. In [Birmingham], we’ve seen loyal readership rise since moving to the Birmingham Live name. But I suspect I’m not going to convince you.”

Neil went on to cite previous examples of regional newspapers being rebranded online, including TM’s ‘ic’ sites in the early 2000s and Northcliffe’s ‘thisis’ series, saying the idea had “been done before”.

David replied that existing readers had been polled before the latest changes were announced, saying the results revealed “content was more important than the brand.”

Both Neil and David declined to comment further on the discussion.

Coventry Live is one of a series of Trinity Mirror sites in the Midlands that have recently relaunched under the new branding along with Leicestershire Live, Nottinghamshire Live and Derbyshire Live.

However the group’s two biggest regional titles, the Liverpool Echo and the Manchester Evening News, are to keep their current branding online.

9 comments

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  • April 16, 2018 at 7:42 am
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    It would be interesting to know what percentage of readers actually took part in the poll. If 10 people responded and 9 said they like it it doesn’t sound so good but a 90% approval rate sounds amazing. I kind of think having worked with the great and good they tend to have an idea and find a way to make it sound like everyone agrees with them without mentioned at the same time as a name change comes about they also start shuttling out double or more links to stories on said site and putting in triple the amount of effort for the swing that will all then be accredited to the name change as opposed to increasing the resources that they could have done under the original name.

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  • April 16, 2018 at 8:28 am
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    At one of my old papers, I had a few pints with a distinguished former editor who told me: “I like what you are doing with the paper. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t say anything.”
    Excellent advice.

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  • April 16, 2018 at 9:22 am
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    From what I’ve seen of other TM online publications, it’ll be awful! When will TM and the other big publishers come clean about exactly how much profit online makes.

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  • April 16, 2018 at 10:00 am
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    Fornerloyalfollower – TM are very good at figures. Now they don’t want anyone to know the figures, because presumably web hits are so amazing, I’m sure you can trust them 100 per cent.
    Or there again. Maybe not.

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  • April 16, 2018 at 11:33 am
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    I’ll confess to being a little confused.

    Does the Coventry Telegraph no longer exist as a brand?

    Is everything now Coventry Live?

    If so, is Coventry Live simply a rebrand continuation of the historic Coventry Telegraph brand – much like ‘Coventry Telegraph’ was a rebrand of the Coventry Evening Telegraph – or is it a seperate entity?

    Also, if ‘Coventry Telegraph’ or ‘Coventry Evening Telegraph’ no longer exist as business names, are they available.

    If that’s the case, how much do Trinity Mirror want for them?

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  • April 16, 2018 at 12:20 pm
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    It’s the website changing name, not the paper. I think Neil needs to calm down a bit

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  • April 16, 2018 at 1:21 pm
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    Whilst Neil might not remember me, I think we once worked together at Nottingham Post when they employed Photographers, I understand and support his views.

    Before all this digital explosion I used to write a fortnightly music page in the Matlock Mercury/Matlock & Peak Express/Dales Echo and latterly contributed reviews to the Derbyshire Times, which now refuses to print such stuff and instead puts it on their website.
    For nearly twenty years my words and pictures appeared fortnightly in print and whenever I visited local watering holes I got comments, good, bad, or indifferent! To me it didn’t matter, the paper in question had been read.
    I can honestly say no one has said to me they’ve seen my reviews
    on the Derbyshire Times website. This sadly reflects life today as many peolpe just don’t embrace local papers like they once did, or even national ones either. Newspaper people like Neil, who’ve gained vast knowledge and experience, sadly don’t seemed valued anymore as the ‘screen’ has become the norm for the modern world, which for me is a crying shame.

    Roy Goodall.
    Music Writer/Photographer.

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  • April 16, 2018 at 4:51 pm
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    Would that ‘research’ into the rebranding be commissioned by the same people that are responsible from making Trinity Mirror such a successful company, at the forefront of digital monetisation, or perhaps the people who are transforming it into a pay-per-click advertising farm?

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