You’re reading it here first… Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) hopes to launch a UK-wide network of soccer blogs, only tangentially related to its core regional newspaper sites.
Quietly, the publisher debuted Liverpool Banter and Everton Banter a couple of weeks ago – two blogs penned by Liverpool Daily Post and Echo soccer writers but distinctly designed, hosted separately on a Movable Type platform and with considerable fan input.
Trinity regional director Neil Benson, speaking to paidContent:UK at the World Editors Forum in Gothenburg, said it
planned was considering rolling out similar sites elsewhere around the UK. The Merseyside sites will be demonstrated to editors elsewhere, starting this week, and, whilst regional titles will have autonomy on what they do with the concept, Benson is confident many proprietors will localise the idea, likely starting with Birmingham City and Newcastle (United is Benson’s team) and possibly growing to include all Premiership and Championship clubs. “We’d be stupid not to,” he said. The publisher would want to ally the sites with its newspapers only “in a very discreet way”.
It may be discreet, but there’s potential here for considerable clout. Trinity’s Sport Media unit already produces the Mersey clubs’ match programmes and official magazines. The Rippleffect web design house it recently acquired produces sites for many soccer sides including Liverpoolfc.tv. “There’s quite a big synergy”, Benson said.
Meanwhile, Trinity wants to make the Birmingham Post “the first fully-Twittered newsroom in the UK”. Reporter Joanna Geary has been introducing the mobile messaging service to the newsroom, but there’s more to come. “It means all the staff trained on Twitter, using it as an alert service, a crowdsourcing mechanism – between reporters or externally.”
Benson also followed up CEO Sly Bailey’s recent criticism of BBC News’ hyperlocal plans: “We’ve got some fledgling services out there already and are trying to get more in to local communities. It’s the 300lb gorilla trampling all over your garden. We’ve got more journalists than anyone else and the BBC feeds off our stories we generate and put out video alongside them.” He said, hypothetically, the competition for advertising could lead Trinity to cut jobs – which would in turn reduce the available material the BBC can draw on.