March 19, 2021 1.43 pm This story is over 36 months old

Out of Reach: Lincolnshire Echo and Grimsby Telegraph closing offices

Don’t worry! The Lincolnite is here to stay

Lincolnshire Echo, Lincolnshire Live, Grimsby Telegraph, Grimsby Live and Scunthorpe Live will have no local based offices after parent company Reach PLC decided to force most of its staff to work from home permanently.

This comes as Reach’s print titles in the region saw massive drops in their circulation (up to 27%) in 2020, with the Lincolnshire Echo losing 21% of readers, and Grimsby and Scunthorpe Telegraph titles dropping 15% and 21% respectively, according to ABC data released in February.

Reach, which is the largest UK local publisher, has 110 local news websites and print titles, but will keep only 15 offices across the UK, none of which are in Greater Lincolnshire, while most of the remaining staff have been told to serve their communities by working from home or travel to their nearest office hub — in Hull or Nottingham.

The latest round of cuts comes after 550 jobs were shed in 2020 by Reach in a bid to save £35 million as the company battled massive drops in revenue during the pandemic.

In the same year, Reach also downgraded again the Lincolnshire Echo’s offices by Brayford Pool, and moved the remaining staff to smaller offices off Doddington Road at the edge of the city, while editorship moved to Nottingham. Now, their Lincoln office will close too.

While the company was planning scaling back even more locally, the Lincolnshire Echo claimed in February 2021 that they were the most read news website in Lincolnshire, by using unverified data that is not the industry standard for web measurement in the UK.

They used ComScore data, from an American company that charges over £10,000 per year for measurements, which does not place trackers (cookies) on competitors’ websites, but does approximations instead. Based on this, they claimed that they had more than one million local readers, while incorrectly claiming The Lincolnite had just under 300,000 monthly readers.

However, Reach does share Google Analytics data for advertising enquiries, as this is the established and recognised measurement tool across the web, and free of charge.

Their own Google Analytics data showed that in October 2020, Lincolnshire Live had 314,910 unique readers. In comparison, The Lincolnite had 675,168 unique readers in October 2020 according to Google Analytics (114% more based on this data), which quickly shot up to 873,701 readers the following month.

The readership claims from Reach using unaudited ComScore data, with incorrect claims about The Lincolnite’s readers.

Reach does disclose Google Analytics data, which paints a very different picture — this is from their rate card information pack for advertisers.

The Lincolnite’s Google Analytics data, compared like for like for October 2020, shows Stonebow Media is in the lead by a very big margin.

Daniel Ionescu, Founder of Stonebow Media and Managing Editor of The Lincolnite, said: “It’s heartbreaking to see these devastating cuts on titles that are now a shadow of their former selves, which must be demoralising for the remaining staff.

“Throughout the pandemic, The Lincolnite staff worked from our city centre offices, serving our communities, and being where our readers are.

“This allowed us not only to maintain an edge over any other publication, but having no infections among staff — and weekly testing — is a testament of their fearlessness, dedication and perseverance in being the best, no matter what the world throws at you.

“Since October last year, when we merged our county-wide coverage from Lincolnshire Reporter into The Lincolnite, we have seen constant audience growth, an encouraging statistic not only for us, but for all our local advertising partners who trusted us to be there for the county.

“Having reporters in the city, on the streets, seems to be a rarity now, but The Lincolnite is a notable exception, thanks to its independence from faceless corporate investors.

“In the coming months we will expand our presence in the city and county even further, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it!”