Reach plc, the largest newspaper group in the UK and publisher of titles like The Daily Mirror and The Manchester Evening News, has been hard hit by the pandemic, just like the rest of the industry. Before the crisis though, it planned a recruitment drive and an expansion of its 'Live' brand of news websites which includes titles like Birmingham Live or Nottinghamshire Live.
The group started 2020 with intent, launching a string of hyperlocal news websites in early March. Just weeks later, as the country went into lockdown, it furloughed 1,000 staff but bounced back by adding three more titles within its 'Live' network in June. Then, 550 jobs were cut in July.
It has been a rollercoaster year, but Reach is cautiously optimistic about the future as it is now recruiting 25 journalists for its new titles. Much of that optimism comes from digital revenue growing by 25 per cent in the last quarter of 2020 and the volume of traffic coming to the Live network, according to David Higgerson, chief audience officer, Reach plc. As of the start of 2021, the network brings in 800m page views a month (it was 100m a month in 2010).
In this week's podcast, Higgerson talks about the tough but essential decisions the company has had to make to push ahead with its plans. He reveals the leadership conversations happening during the pandemic, and the ways the company is thinking about futureproofing its newsrooms.
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