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Ex-daily editor launches newspaper to serve part of former patch

Alan QualtroughA former regional daily editor has launched a new hyperlocal newspaper to serve part of his old patch.

Alan Qualtrough, left, who was editor-in-chief of the Western Morning News and Plymouth Herald between 2005 and 2012, has set up the Stonehouse Voice to cover the Stonehouse area of Plymouth.

The free 16-page title is “written by the community for the community”, and was launched last ten days ago to coincide with the first day of the Plymouth Art Weekender.

The project is funded by Power to Change, an independent charitable trust that supports community businesses across England.

Alan, who now runs his own art practice and print studio in Plymouth, said: “Democracy depends on people having access to good, accurate news journalism in their local area – but for too many communities this is sadly lacking these days.

“Launching the Stonehouse Voice has been a hugely rewarding experience that has demonstrated just how many people across the community want to contribute and tell their stories.

“It’s exciting to launch our first edition at a vibrant cultural event like the Plymouth Art Weekender.”

According to Power to Change, the bi-annual Stonehouse Voice has “outsold its own expectations for advertising”, with any surplus revenue being used to pay the newspaper’s contributors.

Alan’s intention is to turn the title into a Community Benefit Society so that it can provide a model for other community journalism projects across the country, and it has already appointed a six-strong editorial board featuring representatives from organisations across Plymouth.

Mark Gordon, director of communications and partnerships at Power to Change, added: “Community journalism is increasingly important for people who want to stay informed and connected to what’s happening in their local area.

“We’re delighted to provide funding to support the launch of The Stonehouse Voice, which demonstrates the positive impact of different people coming together to make life better for the whole community.”

3 comments

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  • October 7, 2019 at 10:57 am
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    Good luck to Alan on this venture.

    Truly hyper local grass roots news services are the future for local publishing and have ready made audiences across the U.K. of people fed up of irrelevant content and template filler puffs from the long established publishers who once long ago gave them quality local reportage.

    Forget investing millions in trying to find the key to unlock and monetise news, it’s simple, give the people the kind of news service they once had and became used to and the advertisers looking to reach mass local audiences will follow.

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  • October 7, 2019 at 12:21 pm
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    One of the factors which has contributed to declining circulation is the rise in cover price – why pay £1.30 for poor quality and locally irrelevant publications full of useless supplements when they used to be sold for 20p? Another factor is the move to morning publication and the end of street vendors, putting local papers in direct retail competition with the nationals. The internet is a red herring because people will still read newspapers if there’s a low effort routine involved – look at the Metro.
    Where hyperlocals have got this right is reducing the cover price and getting the publications directly into the hands of the readers. Also hyperlocals are increasingly providing jobs for redundant experienced journalists who cannot and will not work for commercials again.
    So good luck with this – lucky to have funding, hope it takes off.

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  • October 7, 2019 at 4:56 pm
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    The growth of hyper locals at the same time as the established papers pulled out of communities, stopped investing in paid for papers, laid off most of their best staff and m focused their attention on attempting to make money from digital news is no coincidence.
    The door was left wide open for new independents like this one to step in, open up down home ( usually) free high volume hyper local papers and pick up the reins along with readers and advertisers the others cast aside.
    Much of the decline of regional audiences is down to the greed and misplaced belief that monetising the online market would be easy, 20 years of trying and failing have proven otherwise.
    Community free papers are filling the print gap and making decent livings doing so.
    Good luck to Alan and all those like him giving the public the localised news service they clearly want.

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