Reach director believes office closures bring reporters closer to communities

Alison Gow, North West audience and content director for the publisher Reach, said the decision to close many of the offices for its regional titles had allowed reporters to become “a local voice and a face”.

Reach director believes office closures bring reporters closer to communities

Reach has closed all but 15 of its regional offices, a decision made in the wake of the working changes necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. This means that most of its reporters are now working from home on a permanent basis.

In a Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism report, Gow said: “There were reporters here who would have to drive 90 minutes to get to the office because of the geography, and they don’t need to.”

“They can work really efficiently from home. They can be in the corner shop because they’ve run out of milk. They can be a local voice and a face.”

Gow claims the move has made editors “really mindful” of their staff after initiatives were put in place by the publisher to address a lack of social interaction amongst staff. Such initiatives included online book and film clubs, free subscriptions to a mindfulness app called Headspace, access to psychological counselling if needed, and monthly non-performance related catchups with managers.

However, the report noted that “not everyone has embraced these changes”.

The report stated: “Some staff have left the company rather than accept a home working contract. Others have used the opportunity to rethink their lives and left the industry entirely.

“On the other hand, the contracts do provide clarity for news staff and help set expectations from the outset.”

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