Pilots to guage reaction to revolution in local news

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The Independent Online

Local World, the newly created media giant, is to start its mission to revolutionise the beleaguered local newspaper market with pilot projects due to be launched in March.

The company, which is chaired by former Mirror Group boss David Montgomery and is the result of a merger between Daily Mail & General Trust's Northcliffe Media and Iliffe News & Media, is expecting to launch two or three local media "hubs". Chief executive Steve Auckland has asked regional teams to come up with reasons why they should be part of the pilot. This will see an area's journalists aggregate their work, be it straight reporting or blogs, on the site to appeal to a regional or local audience.

Mr Auckland said: "One of the main reasons why we formed this group was to transform our businesses, both in print and on digital. We need to transform how we gather content and then disseminate it – so, if you live in Grimsby, you will want to have a relationship with that media."

Mr Auckland, the former managing director of the national free-sheet Metro, said Local World will "roll-out" the hubs to other areas should the pilots prove popular. However, each hub must be different from the others because the interests of readers in, say, Exeter differ from those in Hull.

Local World's investors include Crispin Odey, the prominent hedge fund manager, and former Conservative Party deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft.

Mr Montgomery shocked the market late last year when his plans to create a group valued at around £100m, with a stable of more than 100 titles ranging from the Nuneaton News to the Carmarthen Journal, were leaked.

The Office of Fair Trading was said last week to be considering a probe into the Local World deal, to see if it would substantially reduce competition.