Johnston Press plc ("Johnston" or the "Group"), one of the leading community media groups in the UK and Ireland, announces the re-launch of all of its 170 paid for titles and their associated websites by the end of 2012 to embrace "platform neutral" publishing.
Ashley Highfield, who joined as Chief Executive in November 2011, has identified "platform neutral" content as the key component of the Group's publishing strategy to better monetise the digital opportunity. While the detailed strategy update will be given on 25 April 2012 to coincide with the Group's 2011 annual results announcement, Johnston can reveal today that the initial phase of the re-launch initiative will focus on five centres currently producing daily print titles - Halifax, Kettering, Northampton, Peterborough and Scarborough.
The late May re-launch at these centres will comprise the creation of new "platform neutral" newsrooms at each centre with significant investment in both print and digital publishing, enabling seven days per week publishing online and also accessible via new iPad apps for each title with news updates around the clock and comprehensive online sport and events coverage. This will be combined with a bumper print edition of a newly formatted newspaper once per week, giving readers all of the key sections they currently enjoy as well as some exciting new developments. Each of the 170 paid for titles will benefit from a major redesign exercise as a key part of the re-launch initiative.
At the same time the websites will receive a light touch re-launch with improvements to the home page and improved social networking and commenting functionality. A deeper change is planned for July 2012. As well as the launch of the new dedicated iPad apps for the major titles, the plans will see a substantial investment in marketing for the re-launch of online and print publishing.
Commenting on the re-launch initiative, Ashley Highfield said "In my first few months at Johnston I have been greatly encouraged by what I have seen in our local operations. Our publishing strategy going forward will ensure that we give our local audiences what they want. While providing our existing audiences with an even better product, both in print and online, we will extend our audience by increasing our online content and making it easier to access in the most relevant ways as technologies continue to evolve."
"Johnston's focus has always been on local and we will increasingly benefit from that core expertise with the rapid growth in both social media and in demand for access from mobile devices. We are committed to remaining a local company: that means local journalists and sales people working across the UK and Republic of Ireland, staying close to the communities and businesses they serve."
Ashley Highfield Chief Executive Officer
Tel: 0131 225 3361
Richard Oldworth/Suzanne Brocks/Louise Hadcocks
Tel: 020 7466 5000