The Birmingham Mail will separate its print and digital teams in an attempt to create a “completely standalone, profitable and sustainable digital business”, according to owners Trinity Mirror.
It described the pilot publishing model as a “significant” change in working practice and culture and said there would be some newsroom job losses as a result, with consultations underway with affected staff.
Under the plans the Mail’s website, which is said to reach about half of Greater Birmingham each week and has more than 400,000 daily unique users (ABC figures for July), will be rebranded as Birmingham Live.
The digital team will also be moved to new premises in Birmingham City Centre “to allow it to focus 100 per cent on the digital audience”, according to a spokesperson.
The paper, which has a total daily print circulation of just over 18,000 (ABC figures to the end of June), will continue to be published daily by the print team.
Trinity Mirror said it has created a number of new “print-only content roles” that will see journalists write “mainly” for the paper, as well as new team of digital commercial specialists.
Said a spokesperson: “The Mail, like other Trinity Mirror newsrooms, adopted the ‘digital first’ approach three years ago, but teams have remained integrated. This new structure is designed to reflect the increasingly divergent needs of digital and print audiences.
“The new approach will allow Birmingham Live the latitude to throw all of its resources into one big story for a whole day if that is what its audiences want, without worrying about filling the next day’s paper.”
Marc Reeves, editor of the Birmingham Mail, said it was an “extremely important step” for the Birmingham region.
“The city is the youngest and most diverse in the UK, with a massive appetite for digital news and information. Birmingham Live is our response to this, and a bold move to take the initiative to create a sustainable digital journalism business.
“Regrettably a number of jobs will go as we restructure. However, if the model we’re building is successful, we will be employing more journalists and serving more readers than would be the case if we sat back and did nothing.
“One of the most exciting aspects of the change is our long-overdue move back into the city centre after ten years in our current base at Fort Dunlop. I know this will be welcomed in the city and will go a long way to help us connect with our readers.”
The announcement today comes after a string of regional weekly closures by Trinity Mirror last week.