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Reach restructures

Yesterday, staff at Reach were given details of structural changes to the business and key appointments.

Reach restructures

The details were given in the following announcement from Group Editor-in-Chief Lloyd Embley and Group Chief Operating Officer Alan Edmunds:

Today, we are confirming the first of a series of key appointments following our editorial transformation announcement.

At the heart of our plans sits the intention to work as one editorial team across Nationals, Regionals, Scotland and Ireland.

Working alongside us, an editorial leadership team of Alison Phillips (Editor, Mirror and Deputy Editor-in-Chief), Gary Jones (Editor, Express), Jon Clark (Editor, Star), David Higgerson (Chief Audience Officer) and Caroline Waterston (Head of Magazines and Supplements) will spearhead the transformation project.

As outlined in the editorial town hall yesterday the aim of these changes is to protect our newsbrands for the long term and enable us to innovate and develop new products and services.

Central to this will be the creation of the Reach news wire, which will enable the sharing of our journalism across platforms and products. This wire will be run by a team to be led by Michael Greenwood as Head of Reach Wire. In the coming weeks, Michael will be working with the leaders of our national and regional brands to develop how the wire will work, and how it will become integral to each and every title we produce. Several new roles will be created in this team, with more details to follow shortly.

Our new division will include a number of content verticals which will work across all brands.

As our National titles merge digital and print operations into brand teams, Ben Rankin has been appointed Nationals Audience Director. Ben will work closely with the editors of the Mirror, Express and Star to drive audience growth through brand-relevant content. He will also head up a new group showbiz vertical - a critical content area for our continued growth.

Geoff Marsh becomes Online Director for the Express, with Nationals responsibility for search engine optimisation and video.

Ceri Gould is appointed Editorial Revenue Director, leading our work on developing our new niches. Content Sales Director Fergus McKenna and Reach Sport MD Steve Hanrahan will report to Ceri, who will also oversee commercial content throughout our regional portfolio.

Liz Hazelton is appointed Audience and Content Director (engagement) and will be leading the editorial development of our all-important customer strategies.

A new sport vertical will be led by Jon Birchall as Audience and Content Director (sport), in charge of digital sports operations.

Mike Allen, Head of National Sport, will oversee print sports coverage and also the further development of our digital sports brands for national titles, working together with Jon.

Pictures will come together as one team, reporting into Michael Rye, as Group Head of Pictures. Photographers across the company will continue to be part of their brand teams, but by working together as one network, we believe we can improve the depth and breadth of our coverage, and be more efficient in the process.

Our regional shared content unit and advanced features teams in regionals and nationals respectively will come together as one unit, led by Mernie Gilmore as Head of Content and Trudi Roche as Head of Production.

As part of this transformation, we will be relaunching the Live network of local news sites in the Autumn, with all sites sharing common style guides, publishing best practices and a shared common purpose: to be big and brilliant at all things local.

At the core of the Live network sites is a digital publishing unit which will be headed up by Ed Walker, as Audience and Content Director (Live Network). Ed will continue to have editorial responsibility in this role for InYourArea.

Looking at our local brands, we have made a series of appointments. We will have four marketplace publishers, who will be responsible for print brands and the market positioning of products in local areas.

The marketplace publishers will work side-by-side with geographic audience and content directors, who will run local newsrooms, own local digital platforms and work as part of our digital editorial leadership team to ensure we continue to grow scale and engagement.

Neil Hodgkinson will be marketplace publisher for the North East and Yorkshire, as well as local titles in Scotland. Darren Thwaites will do the same in the North West and North Wales, and Marc Reeves in Midlands and Wales. This new region will also include Cheshire and Lincolnshire.

Bill Martin will be marketplace publisher for the South.

David Dick is our Audience and Content Director for Scotland and will continue to edit the Daily Record and Kenny Barr will continue as head of our Scottish regional titles, reporting to David. Helen Dalby will take on the Audience and Content Director role in the North East and Yorkshire, while Alison Gow has been appointed to the North West and North Wales.

In the Midlands, again including Cheshire and Lincolnshire, Anna Jeys will be Audience and Content Director. Paul Rowland will hold this role in Wales in addition to taking on additional digital strategic responsibility for the Live network.

David Bartlett is appointed to the role in London and South East, while Jacqui Merrington is appointed to the South West, which includes Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Local editors in all instances will report to the audience and content director for each region.

Ahead of these changes, Mike Norton, Editor in Chief for Reach West has decided to step down from his role. Mike will leave at the end of this week and has our huge thanks for his many years of excellent service.

Mike said: “Growing up in Bristol, my first job was delivering the Evening Post and I feel very lucky to have realised my ambition to edit my hometown newspaper. While it’s been a huge challenge to navigate the Post through very difficult economic times and a media landscape fragmented beyond recognition, I feel very fortunate to have had a 15-year backstage pass to the highs and lows of the city I love.

“Under my editorship, I have always strived to put the Post and Bristol Live at the leading edge of news and debate in the city and to celebrate, champion and - sometimes - challenge my fellow Bristolians. I have also worked hard to re-connect the Post with Bristol’s BAME communities and to make its content and its workforce more representative of the city it serves.

“Most significantly, I have been privileged to work with hugely talented people. Anything I have achieved will always be down to them. I will miss them very much and wish them every success in the future.”

We can also announce that Liverpool Echo Editor and North West Editor-in-Chief Ali Machray has decided to stand down from his role in order to pursue new opportunities.

Ali, who has recently celebrated 25 years as a daily editor, will leave in the Autumn and work with us on specific projects until then.

His tenure included spells as editor of the Liverpool Daily Post, the Daily Post in Wales and he has edited the multi-award-winning Liverpool Echo since 2005.

“I believe the time is right, personally and professionally, to allow others to drive the business forward and face up to the exciting challenges ahead,” he said.

“I am extraordinarily proud to have edited the greatest brand in Regional journalism and it’s now time for the Echo to enjoy fresh ideas and impetus.

“I am privileged to have had 26 years working alongside amazing people for an amazing company.”

Suitable tribute to Ali will be made before he leaves us in the Autumn.

Maria Breslin, currently senior editor at the Liverpool Echo, will become editor of the Echo.

Further announcements will follow as appointments are made and we continue consulting with staff through the week as outlined on Tuesday.

Our new leadership team will continue to work on their structures and plans, and will discuss the proposals for each area with all of you by the end of this week. There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and discuss what the changes mean for you personally through the consultation process.

Thank you

Lloyd Embley, Group Editor-in-Chief

Alan Edmunds, Group Chief Operating Officer