Revamped News puts focus away from breaking news

The
Norwich Evening News has had a major revamp based on research which
suggests it is now less important for regional papers to carry breaking
news stories.

The year-long research, by Londonbased marketing
agency The Future Foundation, looked into how people living and working
in Norwich access and consume news and how their needs are likely to
change in the coming years.

It suggests that with the growth of
the internet and 24-hour news channels it is becoming less crucial for
a regional newspaper to break big news stories and more relevant for it
to provide in-depth detail and analysis.

In November the paper
moved its edition times forward by forty minutes to ensure that the
paper was on sale when most people were out and about – meaning some of
the later stories couldn’t be broken in the print edition.

According
to the research, as long as they get on the website it is not a real
problem to the readers – and circulation has risen by four per cent
since changing to an earlier edition time.

Editor David Bourn
said: “We’ve missed some local exclusives since changing. There was a
big story this week about Norwich football club getting involved in
some transfer activity.

We stuck it on the website instead and within an hour we had 400 messages on the chat forum about the story.

“We gather news and information, how we disseminate it is up to the customer.

It’s
all very well for us to sit in our ivory towers and say ‘but we’re
journalists’, we have to listen to what our readers tell us.

“Local
exclusives will always be our meat and drink but these days national
and world events are reported as they happen on TV and the internet.
This has changed the role of a newspaper from being the medium to break
news stories to being the medium providing detail and analysis.”

Bourn argued the print operation needs to be more analytical and entertaining.

The
research also stated that regional newspaper readers are beginning to
prefer more bite-size news in their local paper due to time constraints.

The
paper now includes more indepth news coverage along with small news
summaries at the start of lead stories for people with little time.
Another change is that news will be more upbeat about Norwich and the
surrounding communities.Bourn said: “We will still be hard-hitting, we
just need to get the balance between positive and negative news right.
People were telling us that reading the paper was depressing and seemed
to be all about mugging, crime and murder.”

There are new features and columnists and a 12-page pull-out, Community Life, has been introduced.

There
will also be a new four-page daily TV guide, two pages of letters a day
and two business pages each week. The paper has become slightly more
upmarket, in line with the population of Norwich.

Bourn believes
that comparisons will be made between the News’s redesign and that of
The Argus (Brighton) under its former editor Simon Bradshaw who left
abruptly in October.

Bourn said: “I think the redesign was a
brave move by Simon Bradshaw but they lost their nerve, they didn’t
hold out long enough.

“I think the Argus threw out the baby with
the bath water by abandoning their traditional readers, but we have
kept ours. We’ve just moved slightly upmarket.

“We have a bolder new design which reflects modern Norwich.

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