Ben Whitelaw, head of community and digital development at The Times, has been shortlisted for the XCity Award for his work in developing The Times’ digital presence.
Mr Whitelaw graduated from the Newspaper Journalism MA at City in 2011. He created the journalism education website, Wannabe Hacks, and worked for The Guardian’s professional network before starting work at The Times.
“During my time at City, I started Wannabe Hacks and that led to an interest in digital. I started to experiment with some of the digital community tools that I’ve since brought into the newsroom,” says Mr Whitelaw.
“I’ve now got 17 people across social and digital development at The Times. They are a crack team of data, design and social developers that help to put together some of the digital stories that run outside the regular print or news agenda. We’ve got a few projects now,” he adds.
The most pressing of these projects is the smartphone app for The Times that is launching in the next fortnight.
Mr Whitelaw hopes that the launch of the app will see The Times leading the way with a digital presence that mirrors the concept of a daily print newspaper. He told XCity Plus: “Readers said they came to us for a considered view of what was news and the best way to do this was in these packaged editions.
“We’re going to be updating at key points during the day to accentuate the behaviour we already see in our data – the spikes that we have at 9, 12 and 5 – so we’re giving people what they want at a time when they can read it.
“It’ll be a big change to readers because it’s a move to a new editorial publishing model that will focus around editions, rather than breaking news.”
Mr Whitelaw is one of five people to be shortlisted for the XCity Award and £500 prize, which recognises an outstanding contribution to journalism in the past year by a City alumnus. He received his nomination from MA Newspaper and Interactive course director Jonathan Hewett.
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