User content key for Trinity Mirror's regionals multimedia chief

The newly appointed head of multimedia for Trinity Mirror's regional newspapers has spoken of his hopes to boost the use of "citizen journalists" on the company's websites.

Michael Hill, who will take up the newly created position this autumn, says a key part of his job will be to help regional newspapers put systems in place that will make it easy for readers to supply material that they have produced.

"My role is going to be how best to take the material that these newsrooms have traditionally gathered — the still images and text — and integrating the fairly new ideas of newspaper journalists with video cameras and sound recording devices, and how to judiciously use those sort of things," said Hill.

Print reporters trained to use recording equipment will only be part of generating multimedia news.

Future newspapers, Hill believes, will place a greater emphasis on using the "the eyes and ears of the audience".

He said: "Rather than this new multimedia world being seen as something where the onus is on the professional journalist to gather this news, I think newspapers, particularly regional newspapers, need to be — and will be — much more open to news being generated and sent to them by their readers.

"There is going to be much more of a focus on being inclusive, rather than publishing to an audience at a time you specify, and giving the audience the news diet that you decided.

"There's going to be a bigger focus on interacting with that audience, answering to them, and using a lot of the stuff that they produce for you.

"I think the distinction between professional journalists and citizen journalists may become a little blurred.

"Rather than seeing the content that citizen journalists provide as being useful exclusively on a website, papers can start looking a lot more to use some of that content in print as well."

Hill is currently assistant editor of the Northcliffe-owned Derby Evening Telegraph, where he has been responsible for integrating the newspaper and website.

In his new role with Trinity Mirror, he will travel extensively, advising local editors on best practice ideas for multimedia.

Hill hopes to show editors how to see their website as another edition of their newspaper, which they can use to break stories, but also to encourage readers to buy the next print edition.

He said: "I certainly think newspapers can make much more use of their websites in terms of breaking news, but rather than seeing news as the exclusive preserve of the website or the paper, the real task is to use what you've put on the website to try to get people to buy the paper as well."

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