Relaunched Echo tries to stop readers feeling Blues

ANTON RIPPON on the response from Merseyside’s city newspaper to reader complaints about its football coverage

The Liverpool Echo has relaunched, promising to improve its football coverage of Everton, after complaints because readers reckoned they had been seeing red.

Today's re-launched Liverpool Echo... notice the Everton story in the bottom right-hand corner?
Today’s re-launched Liverpool Echo with an Everton story strategically placed in the bottom right-hand corner

Today’s new look follows an avalanche of complaints from supporters of the Goodison club that in a bid to increase its internet traffic, particularly in the Far East, the Echo had shown an “extraordinary bias” towards rivals, Liverpool.

Earlier this month, Everton fans claimed that the paper’s “#TellAli” consultation shamelessly favoured the red side of Merseyside. Editor Alastair Machray responded: “I would like to make it clear that I am actively reviewing the balance of coverage with my sports team.”

Now “the biggest shake-up of [the Echo’s] 136-year history” sees not only improved coverage of Everton but also “less reliance on front-page crime splashes” and “more emphasis on what’s going on in the arts and culture sectors”. The paper also noted that its readers wanted it to “tighten up on mistakes”.

Machray said: “I asked you to #TellAli what needed doing to your Echo to make it the newspaper the new, reborn Liverpool needs it to be. And you told me. Good and proper. I received thousands of tweets and emails, thousands of completed survey forms. I was touched that so many people felt so strongly and cared so much that they gave up their time to help. I spent three weeks being battered. But they are three of the best weeks of my whole career.”

He continued: “The way our readers consume media has changed dramatically since the turn of the century, and we know the Echo has to adapt to survive.

“Our design and reporting structures came from an era when the city was down on its luck and was based on telling lots of bad news stories.

“21st century Liverpool has evolved into a huge success story. The city has so much to offer, and the Echo needs to reflect that.

“The #TellAli campaign told us all we needed to know with thousands of people helping us shape the newspaper’s future. As a journalist of 36 years, I was touched by the number of people who showed they really cared about their paper.

“It’s been a fantastic effort by everyone involved and I’m delighted that the new Echo is hitting the streets today.”

A Trinity Mirror press release said that the newspaper now has a “vibrant design [showcasing] all the city of Liverpool has to offer in an easier to read and more attractive package. Visuals will become more dominant on pages and the colour scheme much brighter.”

The Echo is the UK’s second biggest-selling regional daily newspaper with an average daily circulation in the second half of 2014 of 61,902. That figure is 11.7 per cent down on the year, but in the same period its website traffic grew by 113.1 per cent year-on-year to 264,693.

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