Reach announces closure of Bedfordshire Live news website

Bedfordshire Live homepage November 2023
Bedfordshire Live is amongst 13 local news sites that publisher Reach says it is closing.

Reach plc, the UK’s largest regional media company, has said local news website Bedfordshire Live, will be one of 13 they are closing as part of cutbacks that will see 450 jobs lost across the company.

Bedfordshire Live was launched in October 2020 and marked a surprise return to the county for Reach after they closed the popular and reportedly “financially viable” Bedfordshire on Sunday (BOS) in 2017, and the less successful Bedfordshire Midweek in 2018.

In recent weeks, however, reports across media have revealed that the company was looking to make financial savings following a downturn in digital revenues.

These savings will amount to the loss of 450 jobs, 320 of which will be in editorial.

News website Hold the Front Page (HTFP) broke the confirmed list of closures this morning.

They reported that Reach has not put a figure on the exact number of jobs which will be lost due to the website closures, but some of the journalists affected have publicly tweeted about their forthcoming departures.

Brad Grey, the content lead for Bedfordshire Live and others, posted on X (formerly Twitter) that his entire team was being made redundant.

He also praised his ‘stellar’ reporters, which include Finley Cannon who was attached to Bedfordshire Live. In his X-thread, he wrote, ‘I can’t say how proud I am of them’ and that ‘you’d be fools not to keep an eye on them’.

Earlier this month, when Reach first announced plans to close sites and cut jobs, HTFP reported that David Higgerson, chief digital publisher at Reach, said they need to stop doing things that “don’t resonate with readers any more.”

This is the third round of cutbacks announced by Reach in 2023. 102 editorial roles were lost in January and a further 192 roles in March.

The latest cuts follow a fall in digital advertising revenues over the course of the year, which Reach has blamed on changes to algorithms on social media platforms like Facebook, which have resulted in the apparent downgrading of news content.

In an email to staff earlier this month and seen by HTFP, Mr Higgerson said the current trading environment was “the most challenging period for commercially-funded journalism” since he came into the industry, in 1997.

He wrote: “Increasingly, referrers like Facebook and Google are opting to keep readers on their platforms rather than sending them on to publishers – the authentic, trustworthy sources of information. Newer platforms like TikTok have no mechanism to send audiences to websites at all.

“The impact we’re seeing is significant, and we can only expect further change to come – the BBC’s ramp-up of its online journalism operations will also likely change the media landscape as we know it.

“The scale of their impact, paired with continued audience behaviour change, mean we need to fundamentally change what we do and the way we do it, to build a growing and secure audience for the future.”

The sites closing are, Bedfordshire Live, Berkshire Live, Buckinghamshire Live, Hampshire Live, Herts Live, Norfolk Live, Northants Live, Oxfordshire Live, Suffolk Live, Sussex Live, Staffordshire Live, Dorset Live and Wiltshire Live.

All of these sites were launched as part of Reach’s growth of their ‘Live’ brand into areas which were traditionally served by rival publishers National World, Newsquest and Archant, which has since become part of Newsquest.

Reach plc (formerly Trinity Mirror) publishes tabloid newspapers including the Daily Express, Daily Star, Sunday People, Daily Mirror and OK! magazine.

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