A former editor and one of his reporters who were made redundant by Johnston Press last year have bounced back with the launch of a news website for Britain’s real ale brewers.
Jim Oldfield, the former editor of the South Yorkshire Times, and reporter Alex Vessey launched Hand-Pumped in March to report on the real ale industry.
Jim was among 18 people who lost their jobs during a series of cuts at JP-owned South Yorkshire Newspapers and his redundancy sparked eight weeks of strike action.
Their site has already attracted tens of thousands of visitors and last month was selected as one of six digital start-up projects to be mentored as part of an international Dragons’ Den-style competition.
Jim was invited to join 30 new digital entrepreneurs from across the world at the business camp at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.
At the Media and Digital Entrepreneur event, their products and business strategies were examined in fine detail by a squad of mentors, led by UCLAN’s Director of the MA in Journalism Leadership, Francois Nel.
Hand-Pumped was unanimously selected by the panel as one of six projects to receive special ongoing mentoring for three months by business incubation experts at UCLAN and its in-house business support unit, Northern Lights.
Jim said: “It is very gratifying to have been earmarked by a panel of top businessmen with a speciality for journalism, as a venture which they think has a great chance of success.
“We founded Hand-Pumped to bring our proven journalistic excellence to the world of real ale, and to be a clarion voice and promoter for all that is good in the industry.
“Thanks to the help and mentoring of the UCLAN MADE project, we now have the opportunity to underpin that journalism, with the best start-up business leadership and advice around, in our quest to be the UK’s – if not the world’s – number one website for real ale brewing news.”
Hand-Pumped is a subsidiary of Immedia Creative Ltd, a media management company set up by Oldfield and Vessey, which handles PR for both the brewing industry and general clients.
Since leaving the South Yorkshire Times, Jim gained a maternity cover role as acting editor of the Sheffield-based online-only publication Postcode Gazette but this ended before the launch of the website.