Three former regional daily staffers have teamed up to launch a new weekly newspaper on their former patch.
Hartlepool Life has been created by former Hartlepool Mail news editor Steve Hartley, picture editor Dirk Van Der Werff and newspaper sales manager Paul Healey, along with two local businessmen, after conceiving the idea at a monthly get-together of ex-Mail employees.
The free weekly, which comes out every Wednesday, pledges to focus on good news about people, businesses and schools in the Hartlepool area.
The paper is set to move into new town centre offices shortly, but are currently at a temporary base – with the first edition being put together on a laptop in the back room of a pub.
Dirk told HTFP: “Our print run is 25,000 and the reception by both advertisers and our readers has been overwhelming, thank goodness.
“Our unique selling point is that we only carry good and positive news about the people of the town, and the businesses and schools in the town. The old saying is that good news doesn’t sell newspapers – well we’re free so it doesn’t count.”
Dirk, who spent 25 years with the Mail before setting up his own wedding photography business after being made redundant 15 years ago, added: “Facebook and online forums do anger and darkness and negativity so much better nowadays, so we’re a newspaper without any of those things – and our readers love it.
“It’s a refreshing change for both the staff and our readers. Our newspaper is only posted online the day before the next issue so we can refer people to it. Putting news online has killed so many newspapers, including the one we all loved so dearly, so we’re not making the same mistake.”
Hartlepool Life currently runs to 32 pages, 15 pages of which are editorial, with an additional three pages of sport.
Once the team move into a permanent headquarters, a reception will be opened so readers can submit birth, death and marriage notices.
Steve, who serves as the paper’s editorial director, worked at the Mail for 18 years as news editor and assistant editor before being made redundant. He later went on to work for the Scarborough Evening News.
The editorial duo are joined as directors of Hartlepool Life by Paul Healey, former newspaper sales manager at Johnston Press North East, print and design business owner Ian Griffiths, and Hartlepool businessman Leo Gillen, whose family newsagent business used to sell 25pc of the town’s newspapers.