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Community news website closes after six months

A community news website started just six months ago has folded.

The Darwen Reporter concentrated its focus on the East Lancashire town and its publisher Linda Preston recently appeared on Sky News to discuss whether such hyperlocal sites were the way forward.

In a sign off message, Linda wrote: “Darwen Reporter was started as an experimental online news source for the town six months ago.

“As a Darwen journalist, I was keen to see a greater emphasis on community news on my own patch.

“In the time it has been online, it has quickly achieved a loyal, local and indeed national readership.

“Additionally it has gained strong visibility with major search engines and was recently featured on Sky News.

“As a writer, I’m involved in several projects and I cannot give the website as much time and attention as I feel it needs to move it forward. So I’m signing off.

“But before I do I would like to thank the many readers of Darwen Reporter, and in particular those who have been kind enough to leave comments on postings, and who have also sent me personal emails complimenting the work of the site.”

Along with Linda, the Darwen Reporter had three regular contributors and the site is to remain live for a couple more weeks before being deleted.


Six of ten (12/05/2009 09:21:11)
Proof then that news websites very rarely pay. Why in the midst of the industries worst hour are we not concentrating on what does pay – our newspapers.
The internet should take a back seat at the moment and everyone left in the industry should be working to make our print products better. So when we do come out of this crises there are products people still want to buy.

hen’s teeth (12/05/2009 10:07:10)
Hear hear Six of Ten – it’s time to grow some ****s and strategically ditch digital off-shoots (as opposed to live news sites) for at least 6 months and concentrate on the products that pay wages and dividends.

Lydia (12/05/2009 11:29:13)
And Northcliffe’s great innovation is?
“Small towns without their own dedicated newspaper or website are to be targeted in a new hyperlocal initiative which will combine social networking with news.
“Associated Northcliffe Digital, which provides the technical and infrastructure resources for Northcliffe Media’s digital publishing operations, is launching 30 new sites in the South West.”
(See Holdthefrontpage story below)
One wonders how much in the way of resources/cash Northcliffe will be throwing at its new sites and whether it can make a success of them. I suspect not.

All Subbed Out (12/05/2009 12:03:18)
Lydia, Northcliffe probably won’t be throwing any resources at these new local sites. The company will, as usual, expect existing staff at its subsiduaries across the region to do yet more work to fill them.

Old Hack and Proud (12/05/2009 16:55:43)
The brave new world of online journalism..
This job ‘opportunity’ has just been sent to me.. The catch is at the end..
“We are looking for people to help us manage a number of local news and social networking websites that we are launching throughout the South-West of England this summer.
Combining user-generated local news and discussions with professional journalism, our websites are designed to become the focal point of local online discussion in each town. We are looking for a number of talented Community Publishers to research and write the news, coordinate user contributions and maintain high standards of debate for each site.
You will need to be able to inspire contributors, hunt out issues on the ground and both write and find local news content of interest to the people of your town. You need to be computer-literate rather than a computer geek.
Most importantly, you need to understand how and why people communicate with each other, to understand where those conversations take place and how to tap into them.
This is a flexible, part-time role that would suit someone working from home. We are particularly keen to hear from applicants who have experience running or working for a local society or group, writing a local blog or running a local website.
We’re one of the UK’s largest publishing companies in print and online, but as a new venture this is an opportunity to enjoy the security of a blue-chip company combined with the entrepreneurial spirit of a start-up.
If you have an extensive network of local contacts in one of our proposed launch towns, a nose for news and enthusiasm for social networks we’d like to hear from you.
Please email us with your CV or visit The Local People website for more information.”
The salary?
£750 per month…

Michael (13/05/2009 08:22:21)
If you want to get lots of people to visit the hyperlocal website, you have to have content that will make it a must-visit site. That means trained reporters who can find and break stories that would make people go out and buy a newspaper. And that means paying decent money to the reporters. People won’t visit a hyperlocal website just so they can read only minor parish-pump stuff. Would anyone buy a newspaper if there was only that kind of news in it? As always, what sells to a mass market is good news content, competently written by journalists who have been properly trained, topped up with news features and local interest features. Don’t ask readers what they want, they don’t know. But they will tell you what they don’t want, by not buying the paper.
Those of you who are already familiar with these thoughts, sorry if I’m teaching to to suck eggs. But proprietors, why don’t you put your resources into quality newspapers, promoted and trailered on websites, but not giving the whole paper on it – why buy it if you can get it for free? Oh, same applies to free newspapers partnering paid-fors.

Lydia (13/05/2009 13:29:45)
Old Hack and Proud, I can see that kind of work might appeal to someone who’s retired, got plenty of spare time on their hands and is well-known/liked in their local community. Perhaps an aged parish or town councillor. Though, it’s difficult to see how the mighty Northcliffe empire will make money out of it.