A new online and mobile service dedicated to sport and showbiz is to be launched in the wake of the closure of the News of the World by Rupert Murdoch's News International.
Twenty-one jobs have been advertised internally for a new "digital journalism company" with 19 editorial positions – seven in sport, seven in showbiz, three in multimedia and two in production.
Former News of the World staff suspect the company wants to get a slice of the celebrity market that has been successfully exploited by the Daily Mail.
The Mail's online offering is significantly different to its print product, with its mix of paparazzi photos and celebrity gossip a huge traffic driver in the past three years. It is now the UK's number one national newspaper site with 70 million monthly users.
News International's Tom Mockridge told staff earlier this week that the company was developing a digital business that would create 21 jobs, but he did not expand on what he meant.
It is understood the team is being assembled to develop services for online as well as applications for smartphones and tablets.
One source said: "The online department has been criticised for not being able to build apps fast enough. This could be their attempt to beef up NI's app presence. So they could do a Mail online-style showbiz app, soccer app etc and come up with one-off apps related to major events, Olympics, royal weddings etc."
The company refused to say if it was launching a standalone product – the Sun already has a showbiz app for its Bizarre column, so it is unlikely to develop another.