Newsroom culture to change at Trinity Mirror

Clifford will report to Tm regionals editorial director Benson, above

Trinity Mirror has used three market research agencies in an exercise to try to discover how its 250 regional newspapers can increase readership and sales.

The company claims it is the largest readership survey in the history of the regional press and that its goal is to produce newspapers that are more focused on target reader groupings. It will not disclose the cost.

Conducted last year, the research has resulted in the launch of the Connecting Communities project, part of the “From Biggest to Best” programme, to bring a new “culture” to the regional newsrooms.

The survey claims to provide a broad insight into the behaviour of readers of more than 170 Trinity Mirror titles across the UK.

The project involves editorial, marketing and newspaper sales working together with a common aim, which Trinity Mirror claims makes it stand out from other projects.

“The project will look at what key reader groups each newspaper should be targeting. It will initially focus on families with school-age children, but other groups that have been identified include sports fans, businesses – especially small and medium-sized enterprises – and baby boomers.

“It will also look at introducing radical new methods of two-way interaction with readers, to encourage faster, livelier debate.”

Text services, links with the internet and existing reader interaction will be developed.

Many of its titles will be working together on the same projects. “This, too, will be a new way of working,” said the company. Newspapers, it said, “will be looking to engage more closely with their readers, understand them better and satisfy their needs”.

Regionals editorial director Neil Benson said: “The research findings overall were extremely positive, but have nevertheless prompted us to ask whether we are truly as reader-oriented as we should be.

“Connecting Communities will help us to define the various reader groups each of our titles plan to target. It will also question what content we should gather, how we should write it and what presentational treatment we should give, in order to be of maximum value and interest to readers. It’s a big, bold, exciting project.”

Editorial development manager Jeremy Clifford, previously deputy editor of the Leicester Mercury, has been recruited to lead the editorial aspects of the project. Based in Liverpool, he reports to Benson.

Also part of the Connecting Communities team is Victoria Coulson, previously education manager at Trinity Mirror’s Gazette Media Company in Teesside, in the new post of media in the community manager.

There will be a training programme and other initiatives to introduce the new “culture” to newsrooms.

Clifford and Coulson join Brian Aitken, recently recruited from Trinity Mirror’s Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail, as members of the division’s central editorial team.

More than 34,000 interviews were carried out for the research, putting it on a par, in terms of sample size, with the National Readership Survey and overshadowing other national consumer surveys.

By Jean Morgan

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