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New look for website as former editor eyes UK rollout

A rolling news website launched last year by the former editor of a daily newspaper that went weekly has unveiled a new look.

Marc Astley set up The Exeter Daily last October on the patch of his old paper, the Express & Echo, which switched to weekly publication in the autumn of 2011.

Now the site has been given a new look ahead of a roll-out of the ‘Daily’ franchise to Plymouth next month.

Marc is already eyeing up other opportunities for expansion and says his ultimate goal is for a network of sites across the whole of the UK.

The new-look Exeter Daily unveiled today

The Exeter site was originally set up with the aim of creating what Marc called an “army of citizen journalists” who would supply much of the content.

Five months on, he says the model has “captured the imagination of a new generation of news consumer.”

Said Marc: “Everything we are doing now is six to 12 months ahead of schedule.  Every day seems to bring more good news and further opportunities.

“The ultimate goal is for a UK-wide network of sites that can work together to deliver a unique news and information service as well as a cost-effective platform for advertisers, both local and national.”

Marc has sold the franchise for The Plymouth Daily to one of the South West’s most successful businessmen, Rex Rosario, owner of Graphic plc.

The company, which employers 170 people in Crediton, Devon and a further 400 in China, produces high technology printed circuit boards for, among others, the aerospace industry.

Said Rex: “It’s obvious to me that the migration from print to digital will continue at a rate of knots and what Marc and the team have here is a business that is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this monumental shift.

“I am extremely excited about this project and I’m looking forward to playing my part in helping it grow.”

Marc left the Express & Echo at the end of 2011 three months after its then owners Northcliffe Media – now Local World – took it weekly.

Since its launch, The Exeter Daily has attracted almost 42,500 visitors and recorded 200,000 page impressions.

The original Exeter Daily homepage used for its launch last October


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  • February 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Nice site but the idea of franchising is painful. It’s like the journalistic equivalent of a 1 and 1 website. The joy of local, digital news is that it reflects the community and has an identity of its own. Rolling out designs and templates is what has caused so much digital pain for traditional media. Local People anyone?

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  • February 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Would be interesting to hear how the figures for visitors and page inpressions compare with the Echo’s – perhaps someone from Local World can let us know.

    Regardless, 200,000 page impressions over the course of more than four months equates to less than 1,500 a day which doesn’t seem like very many. Assuming your average visitor looks at three or four different pages then it’s not inconceivable less than 500 people a day are looking at the site.

    Irrespective of that, the dearth of advertising makes it very difficult to comprehend how the site can generate enough revenue to make it financially viable.

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  • February 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Marc Astley would have done far better to have said how much money (if any) his site is making. Also so-called “citizen journalists” are not real hacks – and most will be filing their gripes or things that interest them personally.

    Can you imagine the outrage if I started trading as a Citizen Doctor on the grounds that I have my Boy Scout First Aid Badge?

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  • February 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Yet more ‘citizen journalists’ – oh good. If people think the press has a bad track record to date just wait until the world and his dog is in charge of editorial content.

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  • February 27, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Chris makes some good points with regard to citizen journalism.

    I note also that a good bit of The Exeter Daily’s content appears to come from youngsters on work experience. I wonder if this too is part of the business model?

    Interestingly, I see one such contributor remarked on Twitter that when she asked the editor for some advice about interviewing someone she was told to ‘wing it’.

    See tweet of January 9:

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