JPIMedia is set to trial a new newsroom structure which will see its journalists move away from the print production process and concentrate on digital work.
The regional publisher has announced a three-month pilot scheme in the North-East of England, which will see editorial staff split into three teams – focusing on digital, print and the company’s smaller titles in the region respectively.
Jeremy Clifford, pictured, editor in chief of JPIMedia, says the aim of the restructure is to “free our journalists from a production process so that they can concentrate on creating the best digital content”.
The titles involved in the pilot are dailies the Sunderland Echo, Hartlepool Mail and Shields Gazette, as well as weeklies the Northumberland Gazette, News Post Leader, News Guardian, Berwick Advertiser and Morpeth Herald.
No jobs will be lost as a result of the move, although some journalists’ responsibilities may change as a result.
JPIMedia is also aiming to introduce new websites which will “significantly improve readers’ user experience” during the trial, which will begin in June.
In an announcement to staff, which has been seen by HTFP, Jeremy wrote: “For the past two months senior editors and leaders from across the business have been exploring new ways to build our digital operations and develop new sustainable revenue streams that are critical to the future of JPIMedia, its titles and employees.
“We are delighted to announce that the North-East titles will be piloting our Digital Acceleration programme for the editorial teams across JPIMedia. This represents a vote of confidence in the digital editorial strategy and will free our journalists from a production process so that they can concentrate on creating the best digital content.
“The Digital Acceleration programme is the transformational strategy we need in our newsrooms to secure the future for our business.”
Jeremy explained the North-East had been chosen to host the pilot “because it combines daily titles and weeklies, so we can test structures, workflows, and operating systems in newsrooms that can be replicated across our portfolio”.
He added: “Digital content plans informed by expert analytics will help to guide journalists in creating the right amount and type of news, sport and lifestyle content required by our audiences.
“A new content management system will be rolled out – Desk and Editor – which is web-based and will allow reporters to focus on digital storytelling rather than a production process. This enables a division between creating the right content for our digital needs and the means to take that content from the web into print.
“The new websites that are currently being tested will be deployed as part of the pilot, as well as new laptops and mobiles to support the journalists, accompanied by new Google Academy training.”