A new website has been launched for a Derbyshire town dubbed “the town without a voice” since its weekly newspaper was axed in 2008.
Long Eaton has had no dedicated local media presence since the closure of the paid-for Long Eaton Advertiser and sister free title the Trader in a round of Trinity Mirror cutbacks, although both the Nottingham Post and Derby Telegraph circulate there.
Now former Post and Telegraph journalist Andy Done-Johnson has launched a hyperlocal website to cover the town with backing from social enterprise foundation Unltd.
The site, Long Eaton Today, went live earlier this month and offers what it calls “grassroots news and sport” together with entertainments listings and business news.
Said Andy: “For me this has been a long time coming. I first had the idea of launching a new title for the town when Trinity Mirror first closed the Advertiser, but to set up a new newspaper was financially unrealistic at that time.
“Over several years I watched Long Eaton slowly decline in terms of prosperity and social engagement, and it really struck me just how vital local news is to a community.
“But it’s not just the closure of the town’s weeklies that has impacted on Long Eaton – both the Nottingham Post and the Derby Telegraph used to actively cover the town, whereas these days their coverage is minimal.
“We are committed to offering Long Eaton residents the sort of quality news coverage they would have expected two decades ago. We will go to the parish council meetings, we will take the time to pour over the council agendas, and we will bring in the off-diary exclusives.
Andy plans for the site to become self-funding through community-rate advertising. He is also working with the Journalism Foundation to secure the site’s long-term sustainability.
He added: “It’s very early days for us and we’re still a work-in-progress – fine-tuning the site’s design and functionality. But we’ve has some amazing support and feedback and we know that the town is behind us.”
Andy, 43, grew up in the Long Eaton area and started his career as a reporter on the Post.
He has also worked at the Telegraph, the Ilkeston Advertiser and the Burton Mail as a news editor, sub and business editor, as well as editing weekly titles in Leicestershire and Staffordshire.
The Advertiser was closed in October 2008 with the loss of four non-editorial jobs, bringing to an end 126 years of weekly publication.
Owners Trinity Mirror had previously attempted to sell the title but negotiations fell through.