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Revealed: the 13 ‘Live’ websites closing as part of Reach’s cutbacks

Publisher Reach plc is to close 13 of its network of ‘Live’ websites as part of its ongoing programme of cutbacks, HTFP can reveal today.

The UK’s largest regional media company announced earlier this month that it is axeing 450 jobs – including 320 editorial roles – following a downturn in digital revenues.

At the time of the announcement, Reach said only that some of its smaller websites would be closing, but the company has now confirmed the list of closures to HTFP.

They are: Bedfordshire Live, Berkshire Live, Buckinghamshire Live, Hampshire Live, Herts Live, Norfolk Live, Northants Live, Oxfordshire Live, Suffolk Live, Sussex Live, Staffordshire Live, Dorset Live and Wiltshire Live.

Herts Live 1

Herts Live, one of the Reach sites that will be closing

All but two of the sites were launched as part of Reach’s expansion of the ‘Live’ brand into areas traditionally served by rival publishers National World, Newsquest and Archant, which has since become part of Newsquest.

Of the two exceptions, Staffordshire Live was set up as a digital channel for the Burton Mail print title, distinct from Stoke Sentinel website StokeonTrent Live, while Berkshire Live was a rebrand of long-standing digital title GetReading.

Reach has not put a figure on the number of jobs which will be lost specifically as a result of the website closures, but some of the journalists affected have publicly tweeted about their forthcoming departures.

Brad Gray, who is content lead for Bedfordshire Live, Suffolk Live and Norfolk Live, published a thread revealing that his “entire team” would be axed.

He wrote: “After taking a few days to process the news, I’m sad to announce that as part of Reach plc’s recent round of cuts, my entire team is being made redundant.

“We took on the challenge to engage smaller communities in a meaningful way, and I am so proud of the work we have collectively done for our readers. Sadly, it’s been decided by those much higher up that that mission isn’t important enough to continue pursuing.

“I want to thank all the amazing editors I’ve had the pleasure to work under and alongside the past four and a half years. They’ve all shaped me as a journalist every step of the way.”

And Norfolk Live reporter Faye Mayern tweeted: “Following the announcement that some of Reach’s Live sites will close, I am now on the hunt for a job in the New Year. If anybody is looking for a Cambridgeshire-based reporter with experience in local news then please get in touch!”

Both Brad and Faye declined to comment further when approached by HTFP. Reach has also declined to comment beyond confirming the list of closures.

The cutbacks signal the end of Reach’s nationwide rollout of the ‘Live’ brand which began in 2019, amid suggestions from company insiders that it is prioritising its traditional regional heartlands such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool in the current round of cuts.

Further details of how the cutbacks affect individual titles and journalists are continuing to emerge, but the company has confirmed that its Bristol office will close tomorrow, while its Newcastle office will be closed in January.

Both offices will be replaced by ‘editorial meeting spaces,’ however the existing editorial meeting space in Aberdeen is to close.