'Reader interplay is the future for regional news reporting'

By Sarah Lagan

Senior BBC online journalist Matthew Holder is to become managing
editor at the Brentwood Gazette and wants reader interaction to play a
major part in the future of the Northcliffe weekly.

Holder, 33, was previously launch editor of the BBC’s accountability
and feedback website NewsWatch, which is linked to the BBC News 24
television programme.

Launched in 2004, NewsWatch was designed to
give readers the chance to offer feedback on the corporation’s news and
opinion, and to allow editors and news editors to explain their choices
and why they report what they do – a strategy Holder hopes to carry
through to the paper.

He explained: “Future websites will be
dynamic and very much a two-way operation. We can get feedback, ideas
and opinions from the readers, as well as pictures they may volunteer,
which we can then feed into the newspaper. It allows the audience a
greater say in the news agenda and enables us to tailor the product to
what they want.

“Regional newspaper organisations launched their
web operations about five years ago purely as news delivery methods,
and I think most groups are looking at what they produce and how they
produce it: to what extent it’s news driven and reader driven.”

Holder
started out on the Basingstoke Gazette in 1993 where he remained for
six years before moving to the Press Association. He joined the BBC’s
Ceefax as a sub and later moved to the Daily Mirror as a sub. Holder
then became deputy editor at the BBC’s PHOTOMONTAGE: JOHN ROONEY The
Chippenham News produced a special FA Cup souvenir edition as its local
team prepared for its biggest match in more than 50 years.

Last week, Chippenham Town had reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time since 1951.

Sports
reporter Andy Cryer tracked down a player from the 1951 side and
interviewed him about his memories of the match, as well as his views
on last Saturday’s game against Worcester – which formed the basis of
the four pages of coverage in both news and sport.

The Wiltshire weekly produced the first wraparound splash in its 43-year history, calling for readers to support the team.

Chippenham
News editor Andy Sambidge said: “This was the biggest match for decades
for Chippenham Town, and the town was buzzing with cup fever, so we
thought it only right to give it the full treatment.”

Chippenham drew the match 1:1 against Worcester, and there will be a replay on Monday 14 November.

The Chippenham News is marking the historical game by putting £100 on the local side at the town’s new betting shop.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: 01858 438872 Regional Ceefax looking after the 14 nations and regions.

He said his varied experience will put him in good stead for his new role.

“Media
organisations are trying to find a symbiosis between their print and
web operations, and having experience of the two should give me a good
understanding of how we can tackle the future.

“I have the
greatest respect for local and regional newspapers, which is why I am
going back to them. It’s more than just the internet: it’s mobile
phones, regional television and the various methods of delivery that
are emerging.”

Holder will replace Roger Watkins who is now
editor-in-chief at Courier Newspapers in Tunbridge Wells, and he will
take up his role on 28 November.

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