The UK's newest regional newspaper group Local World has announced that Cambridge, Derby and Exeter will be in the vanguard of its plan to "transform" regional newspaper publishing.
The group – which comprises the former Northcliffe and Iliffe News and Media titles – has announced the creation of a “transformation project” which “will focus on a major overhaul of content, in order to drive growth in audience and advertiser numbers”.
Local World said in a statement that the changes will start from April.
The company said: “The centres were chosen to reflect a mix of print frequency, geographic spread, type of market served and systems currently used. The rest of the business will follow over the next 18 months on the basis of work done at the first three centres.”
The "transformation directors" have been named as Janet Smith and Alan Renwick. Lee Williams is named as executive director, digital and workgroups.
Local World chief executive Steve Auckland said: “This is the first stage of re-equipping our businesses to be really fit for the future.
“The three sites named today will help develop ideas and provide valuable insights before we roll this out to all our existing sites.
“It’s an exciting challenge to balance our well run sites with a more digitally focused future while maintaining our integrity and unbeatable local skills.”
Last month, Local World chairman David Montgomery told In Publishing: “Our starting point in Local World is we have no presses whatsoever and ultimately, our ambition is to be a pure content and commerce business and that once a year, we write a cheque to a provider of all the services you need to continue to produce print…
"You have got to show that you have more than just a dwindling print audience. You have to demonstrate that you can build an audience and also segment that audience. There is no point in just growing audience for the sake of it."
He said that the conventional idea of the sub-editor does not feature in his vision and that editors will become "pretty redundant" as the job of journalists is to "manage content and lots of content that comes from the community itself".
He said: "The editor title will survive but the job has to be much broader and comprehensive. The modern editor will be the content director, managing content, organising content and disseminating it on the appropriate platform; print, online or mobile.
"It’s about getting people to organise themselves sufficiently to manage the amount of content a local publisher exploits. Not a two-fold increase but a 20-fold increase in the amount of content a local publisher exploits."