Johnston Press to roll out multimedia newsroom model

Johnston Press's flagship multimedia newsroom at the Lancashire Evening Post has quadrupled its website readership figures while the main newspaper has improved its sales performance.

Press Gazette has learned that Johnston Press executives have been so impressed with the success of the trial that they now hope to roll out state-of-the-art video journalism equipment across the company's newspaper empire.

The Society of Editors conference heard an upbeat message from Evening Post editor Simon Reynolds, seven months on from the launch of a fully-integrated multimedia newsroom at the regional daily.

He said: "We've heard an awful lot about the Financial Times, The Guardian and the Telegraph. I've got five minutes to tell you about our quiet revolution in Preston over the past seven or eight months. Not only have we reinvented the newspaper in that time, we are effectively not a newspaper any more. We have been transformed into a fully converged, integrated news operation."

Reynolds revealed that currently LEP journalists are putting 500 stories a week on the site, 550 pictures and 20 pieces of video. The result, he said, has been a quadrupling in website traffic figures over the past seven months to 120,000 unique users. And, crucially, he revealed that circulation performance of the print edition has improved in the second half of this year.

Reynolds said that the LEP experiment had proved that there is still a public appetite for hard news.

He said: "At the start of this project, we held focus groups and they said they wanted softer news — they don't want this negative stuff. The more death and the more destruction, the more people want to read it — it works online and it works in print."

The LEP's coverage of the death in Iraq of Lancashire soldier Stephen Wright was used as an example of the way its integrated news operation works. Poignant video footage of his flag-draped coffin being carried off an RAF Hercules was put online.

A slide show of LEP photographs showing the return of his body was also published on the website. This was in addition to regular news updates in the three editions of the paper and online.

Reynolds said: "It meant that the local TV news didn't do the story in the depth we did as a local paper."

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