Graham Smith, pictured left, has founded Cornwall Reports in opposition to Cornwall Live, the online arm of three Trinity Mirror newspapers including the Cornish Guardian, where Graham worked from 2014 until last 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.”
He now plans to put the advertisement-free site behind a paywall with subscribers paying £1 a week to accesss it.
He says he initially proposed to his bosses that he launch a paywall website for TM in Cornwall, but was suspended after continuing with the project.
Said Graham: “I was being asked to write what I regard as trivial clickbait, but I’m old enough and grumpy enough not to take things that lightly.
“I made the mistake of telling [Trinity Mirror] I was thinking of launching my own website with the intention that they might like to do it, a paywalled website to do proper news.”
But a Trinity Mirror source told HTFP: “It’s disappointing that Graham has resorted to making disparaging comments about the work of his former colleagues simply to promote his own pet project.”
Graham, who began his career on the Cambridge News in 1976, and has also worked for both the BBC and ITV in local television, launched Cornwall Reports just before Christmas, having left TM on 12 December.
The site, which is aimed at people in Cornwall who are interested in news about public policy issues, will go behind a paywall at the end of the month, with subscribers paying £1 a week or £30 a year to read it.
Graham told HTFP: “A relatively small but dependable target market means the project should work. A pure and simple hard paywall is a really easy business model to get your head round.”
While there are currently no adverts on the site, Graham hasn’t ruled out allowing “appropriate and discreet” ads on non-news pages in future, and plans to consult with subscribers on the issue.
A Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “Since the launch of Cornwall Live last year we have seen a significant uplift in engaged local readers – audience numbers have risen sharply, they are staying on the site for longer and returning more often.
“We are proud of our talented journalists at Cornwall Live and what they have achieved, reaching more people online in Cornwall than ever before. We wish Graham Smith the best of luck with his website.”