Friday, January 19, 2007

Newspaper group to train its 1,500 journalists in online skills

Every journalist working on a Northcliffe newspaper is to be trained to update its accompanying website, putting stories online themselves and learning how to "add value" to articles.

The group says fully integrated multi-media newsrooms will soon be in operation across its titles, with all of its 1,500 journalists writing for both print and online.

Previously, many of the group's 'Thisis' newspaper companion websites had been managed from the Derby office of the group's online arm Associated Northcliffe Digital, with content from the newspapers uploaded to the websites from there.

But the aim is now to give each newspaper ownership of their own website, and the move is well under way, with a third of Northcliffe's dailies already taking full control.

This has seen some web content staff move from Derby to individual newspaper centres to retrain as journalists, while journalists at the papers are receiving training in online publishing.

As a result, some 500 stories were published online on a 'Thisis' website last week before they appeared in their accompanying paper.

Robert Hardie, managing editor of Associated Northcliffe Digital Integrated Media, said this showed a major shift in approach from the group, which now saw itself as a "24/7" news provider.

He said: "We are creating a new breed of multi-media journalist who works not just in online or just in print.

"The crucial point is that everything is being handled by the same people, so they can make a decision on how it is handled.

"If you have a story that the competition has also got it will be published onto the web, but if it is an exclusive you can use the web to publicise that it will be in the paper."

Reporters are now being shown how to add links from their online stories, and photographers are being trained to upload photo galleries so that visitors to the website can see the pictures that there wasn't space to print.

Sub-editors are also able to rewrite headlines for online stories.

Robert added: "Every editor is fully onboard. When you are trying to change a culture, unless the people at the top want it to change it won't.

"It is of big benefit to us that there is a commitment from the top and there is a commitment to training and resources."

Northcliffe's 18 daily titles include the Hull Daily Mail, Derby Evening Telegraph, Bristol Evening Post and Gloucestershire Echo.

It also publishes 29 paid-for weeklies and 62 free titles.

Earlier this week the group revealed it is to change its name from Northcliffe Newspaper Group to Northcliffe Media Limited.

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