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.
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.”