Editors' panel focuses on how role of regional journalist is changing

By Colin Crummy

The radically changing nature of a regional journalist’s job emerged as the key theme in this year’s editors’ panel at the conference.

Paul Horrocks, editor of Manchester Evening News, said that his newspaper was pursuing a strategy "away from being defined by a single platform", to a portfolio, which currently totals more than 30 media products.

MEN has sent more than 40 journalists to the Newsplex complex in the University of South Carolina to study convergence principles and undergo training in multi-platform journalism.

The company’s Channel M, which launches on Sky’s digital platform on 10 April, already shares resources and journalists with the parent newspaper.

"We are coming to the realisation that any platform for the commodity we call news is another way of getting the product out there," said Horrocks.

Martin Lindsay, editor of the Belfast Telegraph, which won regional newspaper of the year at the Newspaper Society Awards, said that journalists now understand and want to engage with promotions, advertising and accounts and that editorial is no longer cut off from the rest of the business.

He said he could foresee a time when promotions could actually determine the front page, but that the regionals "haven’t gone that far yet".

Nick Turner, deputy editor, of the Cumbrian News & Star, which has taken on more than 30 bloggers, said the newspaper website’s unique users were up 132 per cent from 108,706 to 253,063 in the past year. He added: "Why are we acting like such shy wallflowers, scared of releasing content before print papers? We need to be bit bolder in our online adventures."

Completing the panel was Bob Waterhouse, editor of the North West Enquirer, which launches next month.

He said that launching the newspaper as a brand was his main priority.

■ For other Newspaper Society Awards winners, visit www.pressgazette.co.uk

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