A former Northcliffe editor who quit after his daily title went weekly wants to create an “army of citizen journalists” after launching a new website on his old paper’s patch.
Marc Astley left the Express and Echo three months after owners Northcliffe Media took it weekly last year.
Now he has set up The Exeter Daily saying there is still a demand in the city for a “proper daily news service.”
Marc is employing a full-time editor, full-time salesperson and part-time office manager to help him run the site, but user-generated content will also play a big part.
The site, built on the Drupal platform, enables users to create their own profiles and add content.
Said Marc: “We’re confident we are creating an army of citizen journalists around our patch.”
He said the site, which went live yesterday morning, would “fill a niche for a daily news service” in Exeter.
He added: “This isn’t about getting into a scrap with Northcliffe or the Echo. But people have been bemoaining the lack of a proper daily news service.”
Many of the daily newspapers that have recently gone weekly have argued that the need for daily news will continue to be met by their companion websites.
However Marc argues that this is a difficult balance for publishers to maintain.
He said: “Publishers and editors in the position the Echo is in find it quite difficult to balance the web and print.
“If you have got a weekly paper and a daily website, it stands to reason you are not going to put all your best stories up online before they hit the paper.
He added: “It’s about how to develop a website without cannibalising your core product and this is where publishers such as Northcliffe are struggling.
“Our core purpose is to deliver news as quickly as possible.”
The new site has an advertising based business model with three of the city’s biggest employers already advertising on it.
The Express and Echo was one of four Northcliffe dailies that went weekly last year. Five Johnston Press dailies and one Trinity Mirror daily have since followed suit.