The founder of a regional news website run in competition with his former employer says he has secured enough money to fund the website for the next three months.
Former Cornish Guardian journalist Graham Smith’s venture Cornwall Reports is set to go behind a paywall from midnight tonight, but a crowdfunding campaign he ran following the site’s launch has raised more than £3,000.
As reported earlier this month, Graham was suspended and later dismissed from the Guardian after “experimenting” with the side project, which he set up with a view to providing what he terms “proper news” after being asked to write what he claims was “trivial clickbait” for Trinity Mirror’s online arm Cornwall Live.
Trinity Mirror’s digital publishing director David Higgerson subsequently accused Graham of seeking to paint “a very inaccurate picture of the work done by fellow journalists” in explaining his reasoning for launching the site.
Cornwall Reports was launched on a free trial basis just before Christmas and Graham has now also touted the possibility of introducing individual pages for more localised news to his site.
In a message to readers, he said: “Cornwall Reports was designed to serve the whole of Cornwall, and there is no shortage of news stories which are sufficiently important to meet that criteria.
“But at the same time I recognise that people have a real appetite for more community-focussed stories. I am looking at ways to set up pages specifically for this kind of content. It might take several months. But it is definitely part of the plan.
“I think the Cornwall-wide news has to take priority. But the beauty of a local news website is that it can grow to become whatever we want – or can afford.”
Once the site goes behind the paywall readers can pay a £30 annual subscription to read its content, while alternative tariffs starting at £1 are also available to suit more “casual readers”.
Graham has further announced that comments sections will not appear on individual stories in a bid to avoid “anonymous trolling”, but a dedicated letters page has been set up.