Each Friday, Points North gives a senior media figure a platform to air their views on a topical or relevant issue.
This week it’s Darren Thwaites, Editor-in-Chief of Trinity Mirror North East. He explains why merging Trinity’s two major online brands in the region was the “obvious way forward”.
Monday morning marked a milestone for North East media – but it was business as usual in our Newcastle newsroom.
The milestone was the merging of two daily newspaper websites into a single supersite. Our business as usual is to create great content and build big audiences.
That’s the reason we decided to wrap TheJournal.co.uk into the much bigger ChronicleLive.co.uk.
This regional supersite now has a wider remit, one that is bigger than the Chronicle and Journal combined.
It serves from Northumberland to Durham through urban Tyneside and Sunderland as the number one news service for the North East.
The merger enables our newsroom to accelerate our digital development, unrestrained by any internal compromises. We’re uniting our efforts behind a single digital brand, growing our reach, relevance and revenues.
It’s a natural evolution after launching Trinity Mirror’s new digital newsroom model 15 months ago.
The massive shift in focus back in April 2014 put our audience first – giving them what they want, when they want it and on the device of their choosing.
In just 15 months, our monthly page views have leapt from 9million to 27million. We’ve grown from around 1.4m monthly unique users to over 3m.
By the end of 2014, ChronicleLive became the fourth biggest regional news site in England. We even hit the list of top Facebook publishers, mixing with illustrious company like Mail Online and Huffington Post.
At the 2015 Newsawards, we were praised for “ripping up the book and inventing how news brands work with content across print and digital”.
By this time, ChronicleLive was delivering 25 times more audience than TheJournal.co.uk and yet we were still duplicating effort and penalising our search rankings by dual publishing.
In a newsroom led by analytics, a merger was the obvious way forward. The concern was that we might lose focus on key Journal subjects like business.
But our belief is these stories will now reach a bigger audience, powered by our scale in search engines and social media platforms.
It’s early days, of course, but the analytics are already looking good. Our daily unique users to business content this week are up 40% on the previous month. Page views are up 63%.
Of course, we’ve much still to do. We have years of established perceptions to overcome.
Many readers may still see us as old-fashioned newspaper publishers who reluctantly stick a bit of stuff online.
The reality is very different. We’re now brilliant digital publishers who also print two much-loved daily newspapers.
Darren Thwaites is Editor-in-Chief of Trinity Mirror North East