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News site launches public interest team after poaching BBC journalists

Victoria PrestA regional news website has poached two BBC journalists to head up a new team dedicated to public interest news.

Yorkshire Live has unveiled an expansion which has seen it take on three new journalists to be part of a five-strong “public awareness team”.

Former BBC data journalist Victoria Prest, pictured, who has also worked for York daily the Press in the past, has been named head of public interest news at the Reach plc-owned title, while Guy Bell, who worked for the BBC in Kent until December and was previously a reporter at the KM Group, joins as a court reporter.

Freelance data journalist Sam Brooke has joined the team as insights reporter, while existing Yorkshire Live journalists Kristian Johnson and Stephanie Finnegan will serve as investigations reporter and court reporter respectively.

The new team has a brief to “hold those in authority to account as well as to dig deep into the communities to find out what matters to them”.

Yorkshire Live editor Wayne Ankers said: “I am really excited about this team getting started. It is brimming with talent and they will help us build on the success we have had in our first nine months.

“We are already the most read site in Yorkshire and we are proud to deliver the content the audience wants.

“This team will be able to investigate, explore and expose the issues at the heart of our communities and help the people of Yorkshire fight for what they believe they deserve.”

Reach has also launched new online titles Bedfordshire Live and Peterborough Live today.

Bedfordshire Live, a dedicated standalone website, is being run by digital content editor Simon Murfitt and reporters Ian Johnston, Josh Bolton, and Oliver Price.

Peterborough Live appears as a channel on Reach’s existing Cambridgeshire Live site, with Dan Haygarth serving as a dedicated reporter.

David Bartlett, Reach audience and content director London and the South-East, said: “Local news is in demand, the service we are providing is more vital than ever before.

“The expansion of our newsrooms across the South-East is testament to the hard work of our journalists, who put the readers at the heart of every decision made.”