Archant redeploys local staff to central investigations and election units

Regional publisher Archant has announced plans to set up a central investigations unit providing stories to its local titles.

It will be run by Norfolk assistant editor David Powles and staffed by three or four journalists from across Archant, who will be seconded full-time or part-time for an initial nine months.

The publisher said: “Day-to-day, the team will work virtually, coming together for planning and reviews.  

“The unit, which will be operational in March, will research a number of issues, break its findings down to a local level and then pass the background information, graphics and key interviews to local teams.”

A press release added: “The type of subjects the unit will work on will be wide-ranging and could include NHS waiting times, education funding and classroom sizes, police detection rates, impact and growth of wind farms, empty homes and pub and Post Office closures.”

Powles said: “The stories that make a difference in our communities and stand out to the reader are often the ones that take the most time, research and investigation. This will allow us the space to do that and will bring in a raft of compelling content for our papers and websites.”

Acting content director of newspapers Bob Crawley said: “Each investigation will be structured so that individual newspapers can then add additional localised information, commentary and interviews to provide informed and in-depth analysis.”

In addition, Archant said it has already set up an election unit, led by Eastern Daily Press and East Anglian Daily Times political editor Annabelle Dickson.

Its purpose, Archant said, is to “share ideas, resources and analysis to ensure Archant titles lead the way with local coverage up to the general election”.

The press release said: “The aim of the unit, which has named members from each local title, is to help news desks and reporters in the run up from the dissolution of Parliament on 30 March to polling day. 

“Ideas already being worked on include election panels of local voters, local and digital hustings, weekly podcasts, election blogs, data journalism and interviews with the party leaders.”

Crawley said: “Local political and general reporters will be best placed to deliver these ideas. They will know the candidates and the background to what will be the big stories in the coming weeks and months, but Annabelle will help steer them, and in some cases provide additional content for their print and website products.”

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