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Editor slams county’s newspapers as he launches bid to hire journalists

The founder of a local newspaper series has launched a bid to hire more journalists as he tries to take “poorly served” readers from rival titles.

Andrew Lee has launched a crowdfunding campaign to enable him to hire at least one journalist to work on the Langport Leveller, Somerton Sentinel and Somerset Leveller.

The Langport edition was launched in 2010, with the Sentinel first being published the following year and the Somerset edition – serving towns such as Bridgwater, Yeovil, Taunton, Street and Glastonbury – arriving in 2015.

Andrew says the series now has a circulation of over 9,000, and is hoping to raise between £5,000 and £20,000 from donors to expand the business.

Somerset Leveller

In a message to potential investors, he said: “We say Somerset has been poorly served by local newspapers. Newsprint titles around here don’t look much further than their town boundaries. They are tabloid in look and tabloid in style.

“Too often ‘news’ coverage simply doesn’t ask difficult questions, it is usually written in the passive voice, it rarely dares to express an opinion or challenge what is happening. Often we read pieces that are thinly disguised press releases.

“When we launched, our readers told us we were a breath of fresh air. That doesn’t necessarily mean they agreed with every word we said, but they enjoyed a challenging and interesting read.”

Andrews says funds raised through the campaign could also be used to increase circulation, hire part-time distribution staff and fund work experience projects which could lead to employment at the titles for students and young people.

He added: “Our rivals’ printed newspaper circulations are collapsing. We want to jump in there, grab the readers who are looking for an alternative and really ramp up our circulation.

“Everywhere we go we seem to find people who want the paper who can’t get hold of it. We can significantly increase our circulation with extra financial help.

“We have writers who want to write for us, and these are top notch journalists. We believe this is a direct result of the decline of our rivals. We could expand our team with the right funds.”

6 comments

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  • January 12, 2018 at 9:46 am
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    First mistake. Don’t knock your rivals. Just get on with making your own publication better. Readers will decide.
    Second mistake. The front page is a mess with a weak opinion column as the lead without even saying whose opinion it is on the front.
    It is great to see a new publication of any kind, and I wish it luck.
    But it has a long way to go if that front is a sample.

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  • January 12, 2018 at 12:09 pm
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    We must wish this as a good sprouting in bleak times for the press but its appearance does look as if it’s been quickly prepared by team of fourth or fifth formers. Hope it gets better.

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  • January 12, 2018 at 2:51 pm
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    I haven’t seen a publication looking this bad since the 80s,good effort bringing out a rival paper but if you’re going to knock your competitors your own publication needs to be top notch, going by the cover alone it’s been thrown together using word or PowerPoint so best get your own house in order first before you attack and criticise the others

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  • January 12, 2018 at 5:44 pm
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    “Newsprint titles around here don’t look much further than their town boundaries” seems to be an odd criticism of other local newspapers. Generic content and stories from outside the circulation area of the paper are both things which are weakening many “local” papers across the country.

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  • January 12, 2018 at 6:07 pm
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    Come on guys. One would presume it may have improved a little now seeing at that is a front page shot from March 2016.

    Be positive. They’re having a go in a time of mainly doom

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