Reach is launching its first regional news “public awareness” team as it aims to make journalism in the public interest more engaging to readers.
The team on the Yorkshire Live website, which will be made up of at least five journalists, is recruiting a court reporter, Yorkshire insight reporter and Yorkshire investigations reporter.
Also on the team will be the site’s Leeds Crown Court reporter Stephanie Finnegan and Alex Rodgers, who has recently joined from his role as parliamentary correspondent on sister site Hull Live.
Neil Hodgkinson, Reach’s marketplace publisher in the North East and Yorkshire, said a public awareness team “is something that will hopefully bring an added dimension to our commitment to quality journalism.
“Public interest journalism is at the very heart of what local journalism should be about, but it has to be read and valued by people to have a purpose,” he said.
“This team will add further depth and quality to our output and offer another voice to our communities.”
The three new roles on the team are among seven in total being created on the website, which Reach said is expanding its workforce by a quarter.
It is also creating two trending reporter jobs with the launch of a Yorkshire Trending channel on the site, which has a brief to provide news and information updates in real time.
A new sports app dedicated to football and rugby league in Yorkshire will see the recruitment of a new app engagement editor and Leeds United reporter to join an existing sports team of two.
Reach chief audience officer David Higgerson said: “We believe the future of local journalism involves listening to readers as much as it does telling readers what the news is, and our public interest news team will help us take that approach to an area of content which deserves the widest possible audience.”
The announcement follows the news that the Public Interest News Foundation has been granted charitable status and expects to help mainly smaller, independent publishers.
The PINF story prompted Higgerson to tweet that “independent, public interest journalism is being delivered daily” by long-standing news organisations “no matter which much PINF try to ignore it”.
Yorkshire Live launched in February and, according to Comscore data shared by Reach, was read by 5.1m people with 30m UK page views in August.
Reach has just concluded a consultation process which saw around 550 people made redundant across its national and regional teams across the UK and Ireland with a restructure in many of its editorial departments.