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Hyperlocal comeback for former regional daily editor

A former regional daily editor has launched a new hyperlocal news website with another journalist.

Mark Thomas, the former Liverpool Daily Post and North Wales Daily Post editor, has teamed up with former PA and Liverpool Echo journalist Emma Gunby to launch West Kirby Today.

The hyperlocal site, which launched on Sunday, aims to provide a dedicated, mobile-first news service for West Kirby, Hoylake and Caldy on the Wirral, and has already amassed over 1,500 Facebook likes.

The site uses the same platform and concept pioneered by the startup’s first site, the award-winning Altrincham Today, which was set up by Manchester-based freelance journalist David Prior in 2014.

Mark Thomas and Emma Gunby, co-editors of West Kirby Today

Mark Thomas and Emma Gunby, co-editors of West Kirby Today

Said Mark: “The Hyperlocal Today format looks great and is simple for journalists to operate, and Emma and I have been delighted by the level of response and engagement we are getting from the local community.

“The feedback has been really encouraging, and I have been taken by surprise by how much fun I’m having with it.

“Emma is winning our personal page impressions duel… but in my own defence it’s been a long time since they’ve let me near a news story.”

Mark left the Llandudno Junction-based Post in July 2015 after a 40-year career in the regional press.

Other Hyperlocal Today sites to launch in the next few weeks include Stockport Today, which will be edited by copywriter and Pure 107.8FM presenter Martin Johnston.

David is now echoing a call made in November for more journalists to “claim their patch” and launch a site as part of his Hyperlocal Today project.

He said: “The concept definitely seems to have struck a chord – we’ve had numerous expressions of interest from as far afield as Australia, and it’s absolutely fantastic to have such quality journalists involved at such an early stage,” he said.

“We’re trying to combine old-fashioned, heart-of-the-community local journalism with a method of delivery that fits with the way most people now consume news – via their smartphone and channels like Facebook.

“The level of engagement each site has with its readers is hugely encouraging and it’s clear that advertisers are also beginning to recognise the benefits of reaching a hyperlocal, online audience.”

Hyperlocal Today’s licenses out its mobile-first platform to freelance journalists who have at least 10 hours’ capacity a week.

Each new site can be up and running within a month with all technical and design elements taken care of, enabling editors to concentrate on producing content. Revenue is generated by a mixture of advertising and sponsored content.

Journalists interested in finding out more should contact David at david@hyperlocaltoday.co.uk.

10 comments

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  • January 21, 2016 at 11:41 am
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    Good luck to them – right smack in the middle of the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post!

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  • January 21, 2016 at 11:45 am
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    Scary to think people believe you need to buy in a site in order to create a hyperlocal platform.

    Anyone want to buy some old rope? Check out the feedback the Eskimos gave me on my latest sale of ice…

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  • January 21, 2016 at 1:24 pm
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    Hi Kernit – you definitely don’t need a buy a site to create a hyperlocal platform, but what you get with this model – aside from a mobile-first design (still pretty rare these days) – is all the technical support, site maintenance, hosting costs, back-up, graphic design, legal cover, commercial support, etc etc. That said, we’re still waiting for an enquiry from the North Pole…

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  • January 21, 2016 at 4:35 pm
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    Your still falling into the trap of thinking like a newspaper. Trust me – and I speak as a long term hyperlocal publisher – you really don’t need all of that from a solutions provider or whatever lounge suit it’s dressed in. This sort of thing happened seven years ago and the shared platform idea failed then after a lot of people had coughed up a lot of cash for dull identikit sites (in much the same way as newspapers think lookalike sites are a good idea).

    Ah well, good luck regardless. You are missing out on some of the enjoyment of learning – and understanding – how other bits of your endeavour work though.

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  • January 21, 2016 at 4:40 pm
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    For example, you could work out how to sort out htfp’s redirect loop issue if you got your hands dirty under the bonnet of a site.

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  • January 22, 2016 at 2:05 pm
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    Good luck to them, think some of the comments above are a little harsh.
    If you don’t have the techie expertise, there’s nothing wrong in buying a site as long as it’s for a (very) small fee.
    Not sure calling them all ‘….Today’ is the greatest idea though – might be better to have a name that resonates more with the target readership.

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  • January 25, 2016 at 9:33 am
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    Dispiriting to see such bile and negativity, especially from folk hiding behind pseuodyms. A sarcastic frog is a truly alien concept.
    Also baffled by the snide comments from Darlo about ‘both’, which suggests Mark and Emma (neither of whom I know) are behind the Hyperlocal Today venture, as opposed to being customers.
    Hopefully, the overwhelming majority of HTFP readers share my hope that their venture succeeds.

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