Times Media Group has poached respected News24 editor-in-chief Andrew Trench to be its new digital editor, effective 1 March. Trench will drive the digital content strategy for the group’s online titles, including TimesLive, SowetanLive and and BDLive.
“Andrew is an editor we have had our eye on for some time and is the most respected digital content leader in the country. We are thrilled that he has decided to join our team, which is highly focused on a digital future for all our top brands,” said Times Media CEO Andrew Bonamour in a statement.
Andreij Horn, acting head at News24 publisher 24.com, said the company will ensure that a strong channel editor for News24 is appointed soon. However, the editor-in-chief position will not necessarily be filled again, he said.
“I believe the concept of an editor-in-chief is by its nature a print legacy construct that originated in an environment of limited editorial space that necessitated curation and selection on behalf of readers,” Horn said.
“This can very easily lead to a ‘push’ model, much like broadcast TV, where the viewer — and in the publishing arena, the reader — has only one of two choices: consume what is offered at the time of it being available, or tune out.
“We now live in a world where users expect infinite choice and media companies to be intelligent enough to treat them like the individuals they are. This demands a different philosophy in news rooms and Andrew’s departure, while unexpected, creates the opportunity for us to make these changes now,” Horn said.
Trench began his career as a reporter at the Sunday Times, Times Media’s biggest newspaper title. He went on to become the publication’s London bureau chief. He was also editor of another Times Media title, the Daily Dispatch in the Eastern Cape, prior to joining Media24 in 2010.
Media24, which is a subsidiary of Naspers, owns News24, the country’s largest news website.
Times Media said in the statement that it has seen steady growth in Web traffic to all of its news websites, with TimesLive growing unique users by 42% year on year.
The group has made a number of high-profile appointments to its digital team in the recent past, with Lisa MacLeod named as head of digital, Riaan Wolmarans as head of audience development, Percy Goetsch as head of product and Dan Calderwood as head of multimedia.
It said it is also redesigning its newsrooms and operating model to “reflect the modern requirements of a progressive media organisation”.
It will this year implement a new multi-platform content management system, which will support a “digital first” approach to content, it added. — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media