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For some time now, the postgraduate journalism students at Leeds Trinity University have been tasked with putting together a newspaper as part of their training, offering coverage of the north of Leeds.

But this year, the course has instead, driven by a digital-first mindset, directed students to launch and run a new hyperlocal website for the area called Leeds Northern, which they will work together on with magazine students to produce news and features for a three-month assignment.

Senior lecturer in print Lisa Bradley, who joined the university from the Wakefield Express where she was deputy editor, said she is attempting to "copy what the regional press are doing at the moment with their web-first policies".

A printed edition will still be produced, with both a newspaper and magazine published once a week. But the focus will be on digital production first, with the print versions available as a "round-up of what's happened that week online".

Bradley said the idea is to train the students in online and multimedia reporting so they can compete in the industry upon graduation.

"No one knows what the future of regional newspapers is so we're having to feel our way in the dark a bit and trying to copy what's happening," she added.

"We're going to have fresh copy, real copy, real time, and we're integrating a huge chunk of social media into there," she said.

At the start of the year, the university's journalism postgraduate students were also given iPhone 5s to drive their reporting, which led to them covering the university's Journalism Week using the mobile devices alone.

Bradley said the new Leeds Northern project will see the students continuing to hone their iPhone reporting skills.

"It's all about multimedia journalism, it's all about online journalism and that's what we're really trying to push the course to be."

She added that while the assessment is a three-month project, she is "hoping that we'll keep it ongoing afterwards".

Students will take different roles, including general reporters, web editors and social media editors.

The university's magazine students will also get involved, producing feature-style content for the online magazine part of the website, The Voice.

The news site team is "also going to be looking at special reports and deeper investigations as well," Bradley added.

The site, which will be launched at www.leedsnorthern.co.uk, will go live on Monday 8 April. It is currently being hosted on Wordpress.

Update Monday 8 April:
Leeds Northern, which has now launched, will remain on Wordpress for the time being and can be accessed via the link above.

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