As part of Tindle’s online news team, Deputy Group Digital Editor Jon Gripton is responsible for helping grow the company’s audience across the websites and social media. Having joined the company in June 2021, he talks about his enthusiasm for working for an ultra-local publisher as the digital platforms continue to evolve.
What are the main responsibilities in your role?
Working with Group Digital Editor Emily Woolfe I am responsible for growing Tindle’s digital audience by helping to improve our online offering. We are responsible for the online editorial content, which means the stories written and delivered through our websites. We also support the journalists in working to improve the engagement we have on social media, growing our audiences and posting updates to reach as many people as possible.
How does your work fit into the wider business?
In total, there are 39 Tindle news websites which were all given new designs in the early part of 2022. We work with the editorial teams across all the websites, which all have new workflows to ensure we meet the needs of print and digital audiences each week. Our primary role is to protect Tindle’s local journalism. We are passionate about what Tindle does as a trusted hyper-local news publisher across the communities we serve. By growing in the digital space and helping increase online revenues, we can sustain our role as a leading local media company.
What does a typical day in your role involve?
The reason I love being a journalist as much today as when I started out more than 30 years ago, is that no two days are the same and you cannot predict how the day is going to unfold. My days start with looking at the website statistics for the day before and identifying any trends in the performance which can be useful to feed back for future plans. I spend time looking at opportunities to increase the impact of our stories or if there are any changes in the ways our users are interacting with our content. We use the technology to see any areas which need focussed support.
A lot of time and effort has gone into putting structures in place to help the editorial teams make the most of the websites and social media platforms available to them. The next phase is to roll out training on ways of honing content for websites, including search engine optimisation (SEO). After that we will be looking at video and other extra layers of content to tell stories in other ways that engage with audiences today.
Which colleagues do you interact with the most in your working day?
As well as working with Emily as Group Digital Editor, I work with other senior editorial colleagues and managers across the business. I also spend a lot of time speaking to the journalists, which I see as a privilege as we have some great colleagues out reporting on their communities.
What do you enjoy about working for Tindle?
We use an analytics tool which acts as a real-time scoreboard of how people are interacting with our websites. It gives me a lot of pleasure seeing our stories flying out there, being read by our audiences. It is great to be able to work with colleagues and make changes to content to reach a wider audience, then to see it get more people involved on social media. I like working for Tindle because its content is absolutely valued by local people. Our brands are seen as part of their communities. We are very clear that our digital strategy is for our titles to be identified as the local leaders for news, whether that is in print or online.
What has been the most memorable occasion where you have helped a colleague?
From my time in the company I am most proud of how a small, dedicated team has relaunched 39 websites in less than four months with few technical hitches. It was a fantastic achievement to deliver the project at pace. Even though it was tough it was rewarding to see it take place. On a one to one level the story about Monty the labradoodle, who was taken by his owner across the Brecon Beacons for a last time was a classic example of a very local story which was covered by Tindle in print which took on a life of its own on the web and social media.
After seeing it published I had a hunch it could do well so I stepped in to share it in a different package on Facebook. It was incredible how it went around the world and led to engagement and shares as well as appearances in national and international media. It encapsulated what we are trying to do for Tindle to reach the widest possible audiences.
What jobs did you have before you joined Tindle?
I started my journalism career in print, at the Express & Star in Wolverhampton. I have worked in radio, TV and online news where the highlights have included reporting in Sarajevo, Geneva and Paris. I reported live from the Oscars in Los Angeles for three years running and was also there to report on the news when Michael Jackson died. I was in Chicago to cover the election of Barack Obama as US President.
In the more unusual sides of work I have ridden a rollercoaster with Kylie Minogue and danced on stage with Take That. I trekked from Kathmandu to Mount Everest with the British Army to attempt to climb the mountain’s treacherous West Ridge in 2006. Sadly, we were defeated by an avalanche threat less than 12 hours from the summit. You could say from the challenge of surviving the world’s highest mountain, I am now scaling new digital peaks!