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Reach to launch seven new titles and create 46 jobs with expansion onto rival turf

Reach plc is launching seven digital-only news titles and creating 46 jobs as it expands further into its rivals’ territories.

The regional publisher has announced the launch of the new titles to be launched under its ‘Live’ brand, which will cover Sunderland, County Durham, Sheffield, North Yorkshire, Bradford, Newport and Bolton.

Reach will hire 46 journalists to work across the titles, some of which will be run as standalone sites and some of which will form sub-brands within larger existing sites.

The move represents a further expansion into areas covered by rival publishers Newsquest and JPIMedia, following the launch of standalone news sites by Reach in recent years including Belfast Live, Edinburgh Live, Glasgow Live, Leeds Live and Lancs Live.

Belfast Live

Newsquest owns daily titles the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, the Newport-based South Wales Argus, Bolton News and the Darlington-based Northern Echo, which covers North Yorkshire and County Durham.

JPIMedia’s daily portfolio includes the Yorkshire Post, Sunderland Echo and The Star, Sheffield.   Both Reach and Newsquest are currently attempting to buy JPI, which put itself up for sale in the summer.

The plans also see two senior editors taking on new roles as part of the launch.

Neil Hodgkinson, previously editor-in-chief of North East, Humber and Lincolnshire, has now been named editor-in-chief of Yorkshire and Humber, and Helen Dalby, who was senior editor and head of digital for the North East, has been promoted to editor-in-chief for the North East – the first regional editor-in-chief at Reach to rise through the ranks as a digital journalist.

Some new offices will be opened to support the launch of the new titles, although Reach has not yet confirmed the exact plans or locations.

The new titles are expected to go live in 2020, with the first launches scheduled as early as February.

Jim Mullen, chief executive officer of Reach, said: “We have already seen rapid growth across the entire Live network this year, including in cases where we’ve established completely new brands and grown new audiences.

“Our digital regional proposition presents a major opportunity to expand our readership even further with the Live brand. Now is the time to expand this proven model on an even bigger scale and bring our journalism to even more communities across the country.”

Some existing Live sites will also see editorial expansion, with job postings also up to increase team sizes at Edinburgh Live and Glasgow Live – two of the digital-only titles which have been launched in recent years in competition with JPIMedia and Newsquest papers respectively.

Lloyd Embley, group editor-in-chief of Reach, added: “We know that readers today trust our regional journalism more than ever.

“We are also confident that we know better than the rest how to grow an engaged online audience – so it is really exciting to be able to put our money where our mouth is and make this kind of investment. What better way could there be to demonstrate our confidence in the future of local news?”

11 comments

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  • November 21, 2019 at 10:34 am
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    “who wants yesterday’s paper?”
    The bluntest statement so far that the future is digital, however short that future might be.

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  • November 21, 2019 at 10:56 am
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    @paperboy true but who wants yesterday’s news either?
    The local daily and weekly titles web posts where I am ( the eastern counties) are no longer seen as the go to news medium and are constantly behind other local news sites, and usually public Facebook posts,too, unless these publishers invest heavily in grass roots news gathering with ‘boots on the ground’ and well known and resorted faces in the community they’ll never be able to compete

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  • November 21, 2019 at 2:35 pm
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    I’m sure the people in those parts of the country are waiting with baited breath for the 5+ articles a week of when they’ll be expecting snow and other such crucial articles.

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  • November 21, 2019 at 3:42 pm
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    “….we know better than the rest how to grow an engaged online audience – so it is really exciting to be able to put our money where our mouth is …”
    That’s a clear pop at Archant who have been funded heavily by Google to make online news pay yet who’s own head of content has gone on record as saying it’s nigh on impossible to make online news pay so who can blame Reach for getting in first and having a go using their own money to do so.

    With Reach expanding into another publishers territories and Archant opening a news site on a JPI patch ,with 2 more openings yet to be launched, it appears to be open season for encroaching into neighbouring locations irrespective of who’s already there,
    I guess when you’ve lost your own markets and are failing to monetise your own news, moving in on someone else’s locations is the next logical step and to be honest it may be the way forward for regional news at very local level: open a new site or title and let the public and traders decide, whoever can provide the best hyper local news professionally written and wholly relevant will thrive, if nothing else it might force the quality and relevance of the content up and bring advertising rates down.

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  • November 21, 2019 at 4:30 pm
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    It strikes me that it’s occurred to Reach that JPI’s websites are far inferior to even their own, and since it’s unlikely they’re not getting their hands on JPI they’ve decided to move into their turf anyway, and Newsquest’s, particularly in the North East where they have very small sales in Sunderland and County Durham, particularly since The Journal circulation has collapsed over the last few years. Going down the digital only route makes sense because the papers are doomed to disappear at the current rate of decline.

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  • November 21, 2019 at 4:45 pm
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    @From the Word furnace
    It would not surprise me at some point were Reach to have a nibble at the edge of the Archant empire by moving into north Essex. Given that it is already operating in other parts of the county, Reach must be aware that Archant are in a retreat mode, having stopped actively covering Colchester United FC for reasons which have not been made fully clear.

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  • November 21, 2019 at 4:55 pm
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    I am looking at a copy of a JPI weekly rammed full on non-local news of no interest to anybody and thinking if anyone moves in on their territory it could be a walkover.

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  • November 21, 2019 at 5:08 pm
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    Let’s be honest @Onetimesub I doubt they even know about Colchester united let alone cover it. Any publisher looking to make quick gains and establish a foothold in new territories must know Archant are prime targets and are withdrawing from their own county towns leaving the doors wide open to strong competitors

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  • November 21, 2019 at 5:29 pm
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    It’s hard not to interpret this as a response to Newsquest’s apparent outmanoeuvring of Reach in their bid to buy JPI. I see it as either:

    1. An act of spite – “You’ve trumped our purchase, so we’re going to invade your territory.”
    2. A strategic pivot. Reach want to cover all the UK’s major population centres, so if they can’t do it by buying JPI, they’re going to continue to do it by launching their own brands, knowing they’re better geared towards attracting a digital audience in those areas than the other two big publishers.
    3. A tactical bargaining chip to use during the wrangle to buy JPI.
    4. Some/all of the above.

    I’m amazed there aren’t more comments on this story about the threat Reach are posing to the other publishers. Whichever way you look at it, this is a big deal with major implications for the future of local publishing.

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  • November 22, 2019 at 12:03 pm
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    Zenithar is right. Newspaper titles once had enormous value due to their high standing in the local community. Years of decline and cost-cutting have changed all that. So if the printed products are on the brink of disappearing there’s no point in keeping the name from a failed venture – it has precious little goodwill or commercial value now. Reach might as well launch, as a hypothetical example, Northampton Live rather than trying to buy the Northampton Evening News for an overpriced sum because in five years’ time how many of the target audience in a website will ever remember the town had a printed newspaper?

    And there will be more and more Live launches. Start-up costs become less – all you’re going to need, essentially is a handful of staff and an office – so anywhere with an established daily is now fair game: Norwich, Wolverhampton, Southampton, anywhere…

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