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Chief reporters to take on smaller weeklies in publisher’s restructure

Jeremy CliffordChief reporters are to take charge of smaller weekly newspapers in a regional publisher’s restructure.

Archant has announced it is appointing three chief reporters to take charge of its smaller weekly titles in Norfolk – the North Norfolk News and Dereham & Fakenham Times, as well as free titles the Diss Mercury, Thetford and Brandon Times, and Watton and Swaffham Times – in what it says is a “shift in emphasis to improve the provision of local journalism” for its online and print brands.

The company has also revealed it is appointing new community editors at the Great Yarmouth Mercury and Lowestoft Journal as part of a restructure of its operations in Norfolk and Suffolk.

In addition, a 13-strong ‘Live’ specialist reporting team will be created across the two counties to provide breaking news content across Archant’s portfolio of daily and weekly titles.

The company says the new model will be launched in Norfolk and Suffolk in September, with other regions to follow.

Archant has already stated its belief it will fill the roles at the Mercury and the Journal internally, with the successful applicants reporting to Andrew Fitchett, who has recently been promoted to managing editor of the Norfolk weekly titles.

Chief content officer Jeremy Clifford, pictured, revealed the changes to staff in a meeting this morning.

He said: “The creation of the joint Live team across Norfolk and Suffolk shows our commitment to bringing the news that matters to our readers first via excellent digital storytelling, whilst new teams dedicated to unique, specialist digital content will enable us to build a sustainable future for local news.

“As well as the investment in our live breaking news service, we want to ensure we continue to provide unique, relevant local content for our brands.

“By appointing community editors and new chief reporters to our weekly titles, we will be putting leadership back into our local areas, ensuring responsibility for local content rests with the local newsrooms.”

Archant says the ‘Live’ team will be supported by specialist teams of journalists providing geographic coverage and topic-based journalism, which the company claims will ensure communities are served with “locally relevant, unique, quality content”.

HTFP understands Archant is looking to appoint as many internal candidates to the new roles as possible, but could also recruit externally should it be necessary.

Jeremy added: “Audience insight will be at the heart of the operation with daily content plans fully aligned to what our communities are reading and interested in.

“For example, our sport service will be much more football focused as the data overwhelmingly shows this is what readers want.”

“We will have new roles and more reporters in our newsrooms as we change the makeup of some of the teams.

“This change is about repositioning how we work to offer the very best service to our audiences and ensuring local journalism has a strong and sustainable future.”