Times is latest national to publish stories online first

The Times is to put foreign news stories online before they appear in print.

Times foreign correspondents will file copy as normal but foreign desk editors will decide where the copy appears, with stories "almost certain" to appear online first.

Times online editor Peter Bale (pictured) said: "It's a very modest step but an important one to integration. It'll mean we'll make more effective use of our terrific network of foreign correspondents and overcome some of the restrictions of space in the paper to some extent.

"An artificial six or seven o'clock deadline is crazy for foreign news.

We've got a six-strong news desk and a five-strong business desk writing realtime news all the time and there are quite a few stories that go online before they go into paper."

"But this is the first time we would have had an offline desk effectively editing online copy in real time. From that point of view there is some significance.

It will give the foreign correspondents much more exposure and a bigger place on the site, hopefully."

Telegraph.co.uk editor Edward Rousell said that since October, four of the Telegraph's business staff had been publishing their stories online before they appeared in print.

Rousell said: "Our aim is to break down all the barriers between the newspaper and online. The way we're looking at it is not just to write stories and they get published online. There's also the multimedia aspect of it."

He added: "It's probably a good thing to publish a story as soon as it's ready but that doesn't get you where you want to get to — which is to deliver the news as it breaks in the format people want it in.

"Delivering an online product is tougher than publishing stories when they're ready. If it were as simple as that, all newspapers would have done it ages ago.

"It's actually about delivering in the format people want — some people may want it on a BlackBerry or a mobile phone. To really make it work you've got to have pretty good answers about how you break the big, breaking news stories, such as [the death of] al- Zarqawi."

Last week The Guardian announced it would begin filing all news stories on its website up to 24 hours before they come out in print, starting with foreign and City stories.

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