Some thoughts on the launch of a new print-first newspaper in Tunbridge Wells

Interesting news from my old patch today with the announcement of the launch of a new print-first weekly newspaper for Tunbridge Wells, a well-heeled Kentish town whose media landscape is currently dominated by the Local World-owned Kent and Sussex Courier. The decision to launch The Times of Tunbridge Wells with a print focus comes at a time when the march of the local press seems to be almost exclusively towards digital, as evidenced by the decision by Trinity Mirror last year to go online-only in Berkshire.

I was particularly struck – for two reasons – by this quote from Times of Tunbridge Wells editorial director Richard Moore given to the Press Gazette:

The Courier’s main emphasis is online, our main focus will be to provide quality print copy. We will have a more serious news approach and also cover national news.

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My five takeaways from the Journalism.co.uk news:rewired digital journalism conference

On Wednesday I joined scores of journalists from around the world for the news:rewired digital journalism conference organised by the good folks at Journalism.co.uk.

As always there were plenty of great speakers, representing organisations including The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, Facebook and BuzzFeed, and lots to think about as the digital revolution continues to disrupt and challenge the business of news.

Each of the sessions that took place in London this week are covered in depth on the news:rewired website, but here are the five things I took away from the conference:

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Trainee reporters are losing out if they can’t learn the trade in a proper newsroom

I still remember the moment I realised – beyond doubt – that I wanted to be a journalist. It was the autumn of 2006 and Leo Whitlock, then editor of the Kentish Express in Ashford, had invited me into his newsroom for a week of work experience.

The work was the usual fare assigned to the eager but inexperienced: bashing out a bit of filler and the chance to grab a byline or two with some safe human interest tales. But what I remember to this day was my disbelief that this was actually considered work. Here was a room full of clever people, being nosy and argumentative, drinking tea and cracking jokes – all while producing something that thousands of people would read each and every week.

I knew immediately that this was the kind of life I wanted to experience for myself.

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Are staffing levels a barrier to digital innovation in local newsrooms?

As a former local newspaper hack I follow lots of people on Twitter who are still involved in the industry, so yesterday I saw plenty of the #localjournalism hashtag in my feed.

This tweet from Hilary Scott really stood out for me as it chimes with some thoughts I’ve been having recently about the evolution of digital journalism and my time working on a weekly newspaper in Kent.

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Be honest, how transformative is your organisation’s digital transformation?

This piece by Adam Tinworth for journalism.co.uk on digital transformation deserves to be read – and re-read again and again – by anyone with even passing involvement in navigating the treacherous waters of the shift from print to digital publishing.

Although many businesses like to talk about how they are transforming their products to meet the needs of digital consumers, how many can genuinely say their strategy moves beyond the addition to, or at worst simply the replication of, what went before?

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In praise of… the Carmarthen Journal’s community news pages

Journal Local Front

Last weekend was spent in West Wales, staying in the wonderful Carmarthenshire village of Laugharne and visiting family in Carmarthen and Llandysul.

Naturally I picked up a copy of the local newspaper, partly to see what was on the agenda locally and partly to satisfy my geeky urge to pore over the design and content of a product I hadn’t encountered before.

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The silly mistakes people make when applying for jobs in journalism

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Yesterday morning I couldn’t tear myself away from Essex Chronicle Media Group senior editor Nev Wilson’s Twitter feed as he made his way through a stack of applications from people hoping to become a reporter on his papers.

It was quite clear from his tweets that many of those fighting for a chance to break into journalism in a hugely competitive job market were seeing their applications fall at the first hurdle because they were making very basic errors.

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