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Publisher opens three new newsrooms thanks to universities deal

Adam MossA regional publisher is to open three new newsrooms on patches where it previously closed offices thanks to a partnership with their local universities.

Reach plc has announced it will be opening up new office space for journalists on the Leicester Mercury, Lincolnshire Echo and Teesside Gazette.

The deals will see the universities of Leicester, Lincoln and Teeside provide dedicated space for journalists, while senior Reach editors will provide a programme of lectures, job shadowing and mentoring opportunities for journalism students.

It represents a move away from Reach’s policy since 2021, when the group announced it was closing all bar 15 of its offices in the UK – leaving most of its regional titles without bases in the areas they serve.

The Mercury’s new office space will be in the University of Leicester’s Astley Clarke Building, the Echo’s in a dedicated room at the University of Lincoln and the Gazette’s at Teesside University’s Assembly Hall Launchpad workspace.

Adam Moss, pictured, Leicester, Coventry and Northamptonshire editor for Reach, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have set up this partnership with the University of Leicester as we feel there are huge mutual benefits for both of us.

“We’re really looking forward to getting to know all the students on the journalism course, doing some guest lectures and giving them some real-life vocational experience of real-life journalism to go alongside their academic course.

“And we very much hope this trailblazing partnership will help us spot up and coming journalistic talent and identify the best and brightest potential trainee reporters of the future, not just for the Mercury and Leicestershire Live, but the wider Reach network and the industry as a whole.”

Natalie Fahy, senior editor at Lincolnshire Live, added: “This is a great moment for the Lincolnshire Live team and we are extremely proud to be teaming up with the journalism students and lecturers at the University of Lincoln.

“It is very important to me that journalism students are given real-world experience and by shadowing our team and being able to pitch stories to them face-to-face, I am sure they will be able to go into the world of work more prepared than ever before.

“We are also delighted to have a new base in Lincoln, bringing two great city institutions closer together.”

And Helen Dalby, audience and content director for Reach’s North East titles, said: “From the moment I walked into Launchpad’s bright, modern collaboration zone, I could see it was ideal for our Teesside Live newsroom.

“The central location and hot-desk set-up give our reporters and content editors the flexibility they need to plan effective, face-to-face meetings and work together as a team as stories are developing.

“Teesside University’s journalism course is developing Teesside’s reporters of the future, and being on campus will help us make that talent pipeline work as effectively as possible in terms of the training opportunities and mentoring we can offer.

“We’re proud to have a number of Teesside University alumnae on our newsroom team already, from trainee reporters to our Middlesbrough FC editor. It shows what can be achieved when a local university and news publisher work closely together.”

The universities involved have also welcomed the new partnerships.

Tor Clark, associate professor in journalism and director of Leicester’s BA journalism programme, said: “This is an excellent arrangement for both the Mercury and University of Leicester journalism students. We are delighted they are sharing our building.

“Journalism students will benefit from real-world experience alongside Mercury reporters, while working journalists will contribute to our journalism degree curriculum – without having to leave their building.

“The Mercury is a prestigious news provider and it’s a pleasure to be developing even stronger ties.

“Of course the significance and symmetry of the Mercury becoming based in the building named after the man who suggested our university be founded by writing to the local paper is perfect for this, our university’s centenary year.”

John Cafferkey, deputy head of the University of Lincoln’s School of Film, Media and Journalism, added: “We are so proud to begin this partnership between journalism at the University of Lincoln and Lincolnshire Live.

“The Lincolnshire Echo has been part of journalism in Lincolnshire for almost 130 years and ‘the Echo’ is where most people in Lincolnshire get their local news.”

And Clare Fletcher, associate dean for learning and reaching in Teesside University’s School of Arts & Creative Industries, said: “Our long-standing, collaborative relationship with Reach has contributed to the development of confident, highly skilled graduates who are making their mark as journalists, and we are extremely proud that many have gone on to join the Reach team.

“It is fantastic to welcome reporters from Teesside Live to campus and we look forward to seeing how this developing partnership will progress moving forward.”